Art Blakey

1919 - 1990


Art Blakey, who came to New York from his native Pittsburgh in the early 40s, was self taught on drums. He emerged through the ranks of the big bands of Fletcher Henderson and Billy Eckstine, where he served his apprenticeship behind the stars of bebop Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis. The first-choice drummers of the bebop era were Kenny Clarke and Max Roach, however Blakey had the last laugh as he emerged as the pre eminent leader of the hard bop movement a few years later. After years of freelancing on the small band circuit he formed his own Quintet, which featured Clifford Brown, Horace Silver, Lou Donaldson, and Curley Russell. The two albums recorded live by this group at Birdland in February 1954 A Night in Birdland Vol 1, A Night in Birdland Vol 2 are until today regarded as some of the finest ever live Jazz recordings. When Silver left the group, taking the entire personel with him, Blakey formed a new band "The Jazz Messengers" which was to become one of the best-known and most successful Jazz ensembles through the last 5 decades of the 20th century. From the very beginning in 1955 the group can be considered hard bop ambassadors of the first order. Hard bop combined the instrumental freedom of bebop with a surging back beat of gospel and soul. Blakey's classic album Moanin' (Blue Note 1958) is a fine example of the hard bop style. A host of talent has emerged through the ranks of the Jazz Messengers. The first Jazz Messengers included Hank Mobley (tenor sax) and Kenny Dorham (trumpet), but ever since its formation the band has known a sequence of personnel changes. Since 1955 the likes of Lee Morgan, Bobby Timmons, Donald Byrd, Jackie McLean, Freddie Hubbard, Benny Golson, Curtis Fuller, Johnny Griffin, Cedar Walton, Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, Branford and Wynton Marsalis were members at one stage or another. The band continued until well into the eighties. As a sideman Blakey appeared on numerous recordings, most famously on Somethin'Else ('58) by Cannonball Adderley featuring Miles Davis and on Monk's Music by Thelonious Monk ('57). Blakey died in 1990.

Recommended recordings
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Moanin' Blue note 46516  
Caravan OJC 038-2  
A Night in Birdland Vol 1 Blue Note 46519    
A Night in Birdland Vol 2 Blue Note 46520    
At the Cafe Bohemia Vol 1 Blue Note 46521    
At the Cafe Bohemia Vol 2 Blue Note 46522  
The Jazz Messengers at the Cafe Bohemia, Vol. 2
Best of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers Blue Note 93205    
Free for All Blue Note 84170  
Free for All
Mosaic Blue Note 46523  
A Night in Tunisia Blue Note 84049  
A Night In Tunisia
Ugetsu  OJC 090-2  
The Big Beat Blue Note    
Go to Art Blakey's page at emusic for free downloads