This was Blakey’s first album for Blue Note in several years, after a period of recording for a miscellany of labels, and marked both a homecoming and a fresh start. Originally the LP was self-titled, but the instant popularity of the bluesy opening track “Moanin'” (by pianist Bobby Timmons) led to its becoming known by that title.
The rest of the originals are by saxophonist Benny Golson (who was not with the Jazz Messengers for long; this being the only American album on which he is featured). “Are You Real?” is a propulsive thirty-two-bar piece with a four-bar tag, featuring two-part writing for Golson and trumpeter Lee Morgan. “Along Came Betty” is a more lyrical, long-lined piece, almost serving as the album’s ballad. “The Drum Thunder Suite” is a feature for Blakey, in three movements: “Drum Thunder”; “Cry a Blue Tear”; and “Harlem’s Disciples”. “Blues March” calls on the feeling of the New Orleans marching bands, and the album finishes on its only standard, an unusually brisk reading of “Come Rain or Come Shine”. Of the originals on the album, all but the “Drum Thunder Suite” became staples of the Messengers book, even after Timmons and Golson were gone. Recorded by Rudy Van Gelder in his meticulous Hackensack studios, this recording reflects the hallmark precision associated with that engineer, (on the reissue there is a brief conversation between Lee Morgan and Rudy Van Gelder going over Morgan’s solo.)
The album stands as one of the archetypal hard bop albums of the era, for the intensity of Blakey’s drumming and the work of Morgan, Golson and Timmons, and for its combination of old-fashioned gospel and blues influences with a sophisticated modern jazz sensibility.
A vocalese version of “Moanin'” was later written by Jon Hendricks, and recorded by Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, as well as jazz vocalists Bill Henderson and Karrin Allyson. (by wikipedia)
Moanin’ includes some of the greatest music Blakey produced in the studio with arguably his very best band. There are three tracks that are immortal and will always stand the test of time. The title selection is a pure tuneful melody stewed in a bluesy shuffle penned by pianist Bobby Timmons, while tenor saxophonist Benny Golson’s classy, slowed “Along Came Betty” and the static, militaristic “Blues March” will always have a home in the repertoire of every student or professional jazz band. “Are You Real?” has the most subtle of melody lines, and “Drum Thunder Suite” has Blakey’s quick blasting tom-tom-based rudiments reigning on high as the horns sigh, leading to hard bop. “Come Rain or Come Shine” is the piece that commands the most attention, a highly modified, lilting arrangement where the accompanying staggered, staccato rhythms contrast the light-hearted refrains. Certainly a complete and wholly satisfying album, Moanin’ ranks with the very best of Blakey and what modern jazz offered in the late ’50s and beyond. (by Michael G. Nastos)
01. Moanin’ (Timmons) 9.35
02. Are You Real (Golson) 4.50
03. Along Came Betty (Golson) 6.12
04. The Drum Thunder Suite (Golson) 7.33
05. Blues March (Golson) 6.17
06. Come Rain Or Come Shine (Arlen/Mercer) 5.49
07. So Tired (from “A Night In Tunisia, 1960) (Timmons) 6.33
08. Yama (from “A Night In Tunisia, 1960) (Morgan) 6.21