Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers – “Up Jumped Spring”

Every year when the weather starts getting warmer like this, I always pull this song out. There’s something about the melody that always brings the same fresh, welcome surprise that spring itself brings each year.

Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers is a very interesting group, if only for the different incarnations it underwent from 1954 to 1990. Drummer Blakey had a policy of working with younger musicians, calling it his own “fountain of youth.” Over the years, the band has featured Terence Blanchard, Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan, Chuck Mangione, Hank Mobley, Jackie McLean, and Branford and Wynton Marsalis. On the 1962 LP Three Blind Mice, from which “Up Jumped Spring” comes, the Jazz Messengers were Blakey behind the skins, Curtis Fuller providing trombone, Wayne Shorter on tenor, trumper Freddie Hubbard (who also wrote the tune), and Cedar Walton and Jymie Merritt on piano and bass respectively. The piece opens with a brief introduction by Blakey that features his signature press roll leading into the song’s danceable waltz tempo. Hubbard plays with the liveliness and energy of spring throughout piece, and Fuller’s countermelodies during the head are a highlight. Shorter takes the piece a little further, while still slipping phrasing from the head into his solo. And Curtis Fuller (probably my favorite trombonist, if only for his work on this record and Coltrane’s Blue Train) plays some lovely lines as well, with some impressively fast tonguing. Finally, Walton takes a few choruses before bringing the band back in to close the tune out.

Click below to enjoy this springtime tune, and get outside to enjoy the great weather this week.

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