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BLAKEY, Art

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BLAKEY, Art
Art Blakey

Art Blakey is recalled as one of the finest musicians and bandleaders in the history of jazz. Along with Max Roach, he established the drums as a front-line instrument, wielding his sticks with astonishing skill to propel the hard-bop of his acclaimed Jazz Messengers combo for 36 years. Blakey on drums was no less than a polyrhythmic force of nature, always alert to interactions with piano and the horns, and always filling his music with jubilation. His acclaimed press rolls were seemingly preternatural and his touch on cymbals impeccable. Blakey also excelled as a bandleader/instructor who nurtured three generations of young talent, allowing them to find their own creative wings before embarking on solo careers.

Born Oct. 11, 1919, in Pittsburgh, Blakey was originally a pianist. He went to New York with Mary Lou Williams' combo as a drummer around 1939 and did yeoman service with Fletcher Henderson's band before joining Charlie Parker, Sarah Vaughan and other budding stars in Billy Eckstine's embryonic bebop band. Following his stay with popular singer Eckstine, he began working New York clubs and contributing to recording sessions by the likes of Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. In 1954, Blakey directed his firepower into a combo founded with pianist Horace Silver that had Kenny Dorham on trumpet and Hank Mobley on tenor saxophone (hear their Blue Note LP At The Cafe Bohemia). With Silver departing, Blakey and company rolled on, the ranks most always filled with superlative young players. Among those under his tutelage at one time or another in the '50s were trumpeters Bill Hardman and Lee Morgan, saxophonists Jackie McLean and Benny Golson (who provided the band with durable tunes "Moanin'," "Blues March" and "Along Comes Betty") and pianist Bobby Timmons.

Tenor player Wayne Shorter, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and trombonist Curtis Fuller were Jazz Messengers for part of the '60s, touring and cutting Blue Note gems like Mosaic (1961) and Free For All (1964). Although jazz suffered a commercial slump in the late '60s and '70s, Blakey carried on with other fine student musicians including Woody Shaw, George Cables, Bobby Watson and Chuck Mangione. But it was the arrival of the 19-year-old trumpet wizard Wynton Marsalis in 1979 that gave rise to widespread interest in Blakey's cooperative quintets, sextets and septets. Not even Marsalis' decision to go solo could impede the Jazz Messengers' momentum; Blakey remained a tireless dynamo of creativity and prize students like Terence Blanchard, Donald Harrison, Robin Eubanks, Benny Green, Kenny Garrett and Geoff Keezer improvised with creativity and emotional commitment. Only Blakey's death on Oct. 16, 1990, could silence the world-acclaimed Jazz Messengers.

In 1981, Blakey was elected by the Readers into the Down Beat Hall of Fame.


OTHER CD'S FEATURING BLAKEY, Art:
Other Available CD's
EBCS1006 ART BLAKEY "A DAY WITH ART BLAKEY 1961" vol.1


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