African High Life

Solomon Ilori and His Afro-Drum Ensemble, 1964

This is the sort of album where my one-vinyl-per-artist really becomes a curatorial game.

Let's start with Art Blakey. He is an undisputed jazz legend. Dozens of primetime headliners came up through the ranks of his decades-long run heading the Jazz Messengers—from Wayne Shorter to Wynton Marsalis. I have a special love, though, for Blakey's afro-centric drum ensemble albums: The Drum Suite, The African BeatOrgy In Rhythm… As much as I love enjoy those albums, they're still anomolies; I really wanted a Jazz Messengers LP.

Enter Solomon Iluri. After appearing on Blakey's the African Beat, Ilori got the chance to lead a session for Blue Note records, and it is, for all intents and purposes, a Blakey drum-LP. It features Blakey on skins (as well as Elvin Jones!), a handful of percussionists—Ilori on talking drum—along with some of the Messengers, like Freddie Hubbard, to boot. 

This 12" EP collects 2 additional, extended tracks that were cut during that session but not released (except as bonus tracks on the cd reissue, decades later). Now in 2016, they're getting their first pressing on vinyl. Lucky me.

Curatorial problem? Solved.