Previously unissued 1961 Art Blakey Tokyo live date released on deluxe LP & CD on Blue Note

Kevin Whitlock
Wednesday, September 15, 2021

A stunning newly issued live recording of the drummer’s classic line-up will be released on 5 November

A previously unreleased 1961 Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers live concert gets an official CD and LP release on 5 November via Blue Note Records. Art Blakey – First Flight to Tokyo: The Lost 1961 Recordings captures drum legend Blakey with a classic line-up of The Jazz Messengers featuring trumpeter Lee Morgan; tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter; pianist Bobby Timmons, and bassist Jymie Merritt. It was recorded on 14 January, 1961 at the Hibiya Public Hall in Tokyo during the band’s first-ever tour of Japan (other dates on that tour have been released on multiple bootlegs over the years).

The deluxe 2-LP 180g vinyl edition and 2-CD package come with elaborate booklets featuring rare photos from the Blakey family’s personal archives and Japanese photographers Shunji Okura and Hozumi Nakadaira, as well as images from the original 1961 Japanese concert tour programme; an historical essay by acclaimed jazz critic Bob Blumenthal; plus new interviews, with Shorter in conversation with Blue Note president Don Was, celebrated Blue Note saxophonist Lou Donaldson, Japanese jazz star Sadao Watanabe, renowned Japanese music critic Reiko Yukawa, Art Blakey’s son Takashi Blakey, and a trio of drum greats: Louis Hayes, Billy Hart and Cindy Blackman Santana.

First Flight to Tokyo is co-produced by Zev Feldman and trumpeter David Weiss. Audio was transferred from the original ¼” tape reels, and the vinyl edition was mastered by Bernie Grundman. The vinyl is pressed at RTI for the US and at Optimal for Europe and the rest of the world.

For more info visit and listen to the full version of ‘Moanin’’ from the album on the video below


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