Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Happy Birthday: Art Blakey

Arthur "Art" Blakey
(October 11, 1919 – October 16, 1990)

Art Blakey, also known as Abdullah Ibn Buhaina, was one of the inventors of the modern style of bebop drumming along with Kenny Clarke and Max Roach. Blakey was influential in mainstream Jazz with his brand of bluesy, funky hard bop style of playing, creating a dark cymbal sound punctuated by frequent loud snare- and bass-drum accents in triplets or cross-rhythms. He adopted several African devices, including rapping on the side of the drum and using his elbow on the tom-tom to alter the pitch. His much-imitated trademark, the forceful closing of the hi-hat on every second and fourth beat, was part of his style from 1950 to '51.

The "Jazz Messengers" name was first used on a 1954 recording led by Horace Silver, with Blakey, Hank Mobley, Kenny Dorham and Doug Watkins. Previous recordings did not have the "Jazz Messengers" name. After Horace Silver left the group in 1956 after their first year, Blakey took over the group name and the band was known as "Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers" from then onwards with Blakey being the sole leader. Many "Jazz Messengers" alumni went on to become prominent figures in Jazz.

Blakey was inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame (in 1982), the Grammy Hall of Fame (in 2001), and was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. He also received many other awards during his lifetime and posthumously.

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