In 1954, pianist Horace Silver teamed with drummer Art Blakey to form a cooperative ensemble that would combine the dexterity and power of bebop with the mid-tempo, down-home grooves of blues and gospel music. The results are what would become known as hard bop, and the Jazz Messengers were one of the leading exponents of this significant era in jazz history. Before Silver's departure and Blakey's lifetime of leadership, this first major session by the original Jazz Messengers set the standard by which future incarnations of the group would be measured.
The tunes here are all Silver's, save the bopping "Hankerin'" by tenor man Hank Mobley. Such cuts as the opening "Room 608," the bluesy "Creepin' In," and "Hippy" are excellent examples of both Silver's creative composing style and the Messengers' signature sound. Of course, the most remembered tunes from the session are the classic "The Preacher" and "Doodlin'," two quintessential hard bop standards. In all, this set is not only a stunning snapshot of one of the first groups of its kind but the very definition of a style that dominated jazz in the '50s and '60s and enjoyed a resurgence in the '80s.