Jazz & Blues Edge: The Quintet – Jazz At Massey Hall

Credit: BootLoverPhotography

Review by Miss Ann


Genre:         Jazz

Style: Bop

Year:  1956


Perdido written by Ervin Drake / Hans Lengsfelder / Juan Tizol    7:06

Salt Peanuts written by Kenny Clarke / Steve Coleman / Dizzy Gillespie 7:30

All The Things You Are written by       

Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II/52nd Street Theme written by Thelonious Monk    7:55

Wee (Allen’s Alley) written by Denzil Best / Dizzy Gillespie / Frank Paparelli    6:45

Hot House written by Tadd Dameron   9:18

A Night In Tunisia written by Dizzy Gillespie / Frank Paparelli      7:33


Dizzy Gillespie   Trumpet, vocal on “Salt Peanuts”

Charlie Parker   Alto Saxophone

Bud Powell   Piano

Charles Mingus   Bass

Max Roach   Drums

My copy of this album is The Jazz Classics Reissue Remaster 2012 edition.

The May 15, 1953, concert at The Massey Hall, Toronto has a unique and solitaire ensemble line-up of five of the major bop pioneers, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach. Charles Mingus is the one who brought the brand-new high-end tape upon which the concert was recorded.  Parker played a Grafton saxophone on this date.  It is of importance to note that the Massey Hall jazz performance captured in this recording was not a rehearsed gathering, but rather a one-time-only concert event.  Jazz at Massey Hall was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1995.

Nick Phillips, Vice President of Jazz and Catalog A&R at Concord Music Group and producer of the OJC Remasters series: “It’s a perfect example of what can happen when musicians of this caliber come together and just play! It’s the very definition of an all-time classic, and each and every musician on this recording is a true legend of jazz.”

It is a hot afternoon in Los Angeles and I am drinking a cold bottle of water. I have listened to this recording several times now. Why is this important?  It isn’t.  That I enjoyed listening to every note, every beat, and every riff is.  This is a good time captured on vinyl.  When you read the liner notes or jazz reviews what they write about is the “story” of the history of this concert. I know I am queer but when I listen to an album, I listen to the music, not the rumors about what happened that day, not the story.  Did each of these artists live colorful lives, some of those lives way to short and influenced by their addictions? Yes. I have never met a creative person that did not have any demons in their closet. Perhaps some of the mystic this record has is the volume of rumor and story that accompanies the concert like a cherished lover.

What I find important about this album is the creative flow, the spirited improvisation, the genius of five artists agreeing on which jazz standard tunes to play and inspiring music being manifested. This is unique, special, and art to be revered.  I play this album and smile, as my heart is newly light and taken to another plane of existence. The spirit of the performance enraptures me.  I have deep respect and admiration for an ensemble that does this on the fly as these five musicians did.  A spirit of energy is showered over, around, and through the listener.  This is a gift.  Be Bop in all of its brilliant invention is alive, well, and the magic happens every time you listen to this album.  Every solo is artistic triumph. My attention to what is being created never wavers.  While Gillespie and Parker intertwine melodious invention, Mingus and Roach provide solid undercurrent with Powell right there in the middle, being choral, fluid, and adding his voice as the ensemble swings on. 

In conclusion, this a breezy wave of fresh air, the magic of spontaneous creation captured in a bottle waiting for you to release it, no matter the weather nor circumstance.