Reflections of Buhaina consists of material recorded at two sessions, one from 1957 and the other from 1961. During the first session, Art Blakey sparkles with a version of his Jazz Messengers that is not the most well-known, but certainly one of the best.
From the opening drum solo in Gigi Gryce's "Casino," filled with bombs, press rolls and cymbal crashes, Blakey takes command and doesn't let go. Witness his solo romp on the infectious "Study in Rhythm" (RealAudio excerpt).
The Messengers are equally smoking. The front line of alto sax legend Jackie McLean and trumpeter Bill Hardman swings hard on Ray Draper's Latin-tinged "The Biddie Griddies" (RealAudio excerpt), making it a high point of the session. Bassist Spanky DeBrest and pianist Sam Dockery provide solid backing, but also take solos, most notably on "Mirage" (RealAudio excerpt ), which features a sweet, soft middle register workout from Dockery. On the intricate title cut, DeBrest astutely navigates the quick changes, stays rooted in the groove when Blakey wanders, and swings madly during the solos. It's an impressive display of musical dexterity.
Hardman and his quartet play on the final three tracks here, recorded at a 1961 session. The clear highlight is the brassman's sweet and tender reading of "With Malice Towards None."
Reflections of Buhaina is a prime example of hard bop at its melodic best. This is a fun, solid and swinging affair.