Sabu with Art Blakey
The incredible "Message From Kenya" led to Sabu and Blakey's further collaboration, particularly "Star of Africa" and the two-volume Orgy in Rhythm session four years later.
From Leonard Feather's liner notes: "The story of 'Message From Kenya,' Art tells us, was first told to him by Moses Mann, a Nigerian drummer who worked in this country with Pearl Primus. The evocation, voiced dramatically in a mixture of Spanish and Swahili, tells of a hunter whose cries celebrate the news that he has captured more game than any other hunter in the village, in order to convince the girl he loves of his prowess. The ritual comes vividly to life as Sabu and Blakey develop a study in rhythmic variety and dynamics with exciting crescendos and diminuendos."
"Message From Kenya" also appears on two 12" LP reissues:
Horace Silver Quintet and Spotlight on Drums; BLP-1520
Buddy de Franco Takes You to the Stars; GNP Vol. 2; 1954 10" (Vogue LDE-077)
Despite misleading labelling, Sabu plays only on the last track, "Star of Africa." As with "Message from Kenya," the drum duet (actually a chant) departs significantly from the rest of the session. The rest of the quartet and choir join in at the end, but for the most part it is another exotic workout between Sabu and Art Blakey.
Personnel (of the Buddy de Franco Quartet with Herman McCoy's Swing Choir):
Personnel: Art Blakey, Sabu Martinez, Art Taylor, Jo Jones, "Specs" Wright, Carlos "Patato" Valdez, Jose Valiente, Ubaldo Nieto, Evilio Quintero, Herbie Mann, Ray Bryant, Wendell Marshall
Recorded in one take, March 7, 1957 at 9:00 p.m. with no rehearsals or score -- the way it should be. "Sabu directed the [five-man] Latin rhythm section and was a dynamo thoughout, singing, chanting, playing sticks on bongos, blowing whistles, etc."
Orgy in Rhythm Vol. 2; Blue Note BLP-1555; 1957
Note: The LPs were issued in mono and electronic stereo only. The CD reissue is the first release in true stereo, although one track remains mono-only, as recorded.
Drum Suite; Columbia 1002; 1958
Personnel: Art Blakey, Sabu Martinez, Candido, Ray Bryant, Oscar Pettiford, Charles Wright
Side one's Drum Suite, by the Art Blakey Percussion Ensemble (including Sabu), was recorded in one take; side two is by the Jazz Messengers.
"The Sacrifice" also appears on:
Holiday for Skins Vol. 1; Blue Note BLP-4004; 1960/1957
Joe Goldberg's liner notes mention "Sabu's calvary-like entrance on Reflection and quote the following from an interview with Blakey:
"As the record [Holiday for Skins] played, he [Blakey] found himself imitating on the chair arm a complex rhythm figure of Sabu. 'Listen to that! He can really play! That's American! That's what we have to offer. I hear we're sending ballet over to Russia. They're the masters of ballet, and we're sending them ballet. They don't have jazz. We have jazz.' He pointed to the phonograph. 'They would go for that.'"
Holiday for Skins Vol. 2; Blue Note BLP-4005; 1960/1957
© 1997 Hip Wax