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Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers

In the '60s, when John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman were defining the concept of a jazz avant-garde, few knowledgeable observers would have guessed that in another 30 years the music's mainstream would virtually bypass their innovations, in favor of the hard bop style that free jazz had apparently supplanted. As it turned out, many listeners who had come to love jazz as a sophisticated manifestation of popular music were unable to accept the extreme esotericism of the avant-garde; their tastes were rooted in the core elements of "swing" and "blues," characteristics found in abundance in the music of the Jazz Messengers, the quintessential hard bop ensemble led by drummer Art Blakey. In the '60s, '70s, and '80s, when artists on the cutting edge were attempting to transform the music, Blakey continued to play in more or less the same bag he had since the '40s, when his cohorts included the likes of Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and Fats Navarro. By the '80s, the evolving mainstream consensus had reached a point of overwhelming approval in regard to hard bop: this is what jazz is, and Art Blakey -- as its longest-lived and most eloquent exponent -- was its master.

The Jazz Messengers had always been an incubator for young talent. A list of the band's alumni is a who's who of straight-ahead jazz from the '50s on -- Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, Johnny Griffin, Jackie McLean, Donald Byrd, Bobby Timmons, Cedar Walton, Benny Golson, Joanne Brackeen, Billy Harper, Valery Ponomarev, Bill Pierce, Branford Marsalis, James Williams, Keith Jarrett, and Chuck Mangione, to name several of the most well-known. In the '80s, precocious graduates of Blakey's School for Swing would continue to number among jazz's movers and shakers, foremost among them being trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. Marsalis became the most visible symbol of the '80s jazz mainstream; through him, Blakey's conservative ideals came to dominate the public's perception of the music. At the time of his death in 1990, the Messenger aesthetic dominated jazz, and Blakey himself had arguably become the most influential jazz musician of the past 20 years.

Blakey's first musical education came in the form of piano lessons; he was playing professionally as a seventh grader, leading his own commercial band. He switched to drums shortly thereafter, learning to play in the hard-swinging style of Chick Webb and Sid Catlett. In 1942, he played with pianist Mary Lou Williams in New York. He toured the South with Fletcher Henderson's band in 1943-1944. From there, he briefly led a Boston-based big band before joining Billy Eckstine's new group, with which he would remain from 1944-1947. Eckstine's big band was the famous "cradle of modern jazz," and included (at different times) such major figures of the forthcoming bebop revolution as Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and Charlie Parker. When Eckstine's group disbanded, Blakey started a rehearsal ensemble called the Seventeen Messengers. He also recorded with an octet, the first of his bands to be called the Jazz Messengers. In the early '50s, Blakey began an association with Horace Silver, a particularly likeminded pianist with whom he recorded several times. In 1955, they formed a group with Hank Mobley and Kenny Dorham, calling themselves "Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers." The Messengers typified the growing hard bop movement -- hard, funky, and bluesy, the band emphasized the music's primal rhythmic and harmonic essence. A year later, Silver left the band, and Blakey became its leader. From that point, the Messengers were Blakey's primary vehicle, though he would continue to freelance in various contexts. Notable was A Jazz Message, a 1963 Impulse record date with McCoy Tyner, Sonny Stitt, and Art Davis; a 1971-1972 world tour with "the Giants of Jazz," an all-star venture with Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Stitt, and Al McKibbon; and an epochal drum battle with Max Roach, Elvin Jones, and Buddy Rich at the 1964 Newport Jazz Festival. Blakey also frequently recorded as a sideman under the leadership of ex-Messengers.

Blakey's influence as a bandleader could not have been nearly so great had he not been such a skilled instrumentalist. No drummer ever drove a band harder; none could generate more sheer momentum in the course of a tune; and probably no drummer had a lower boiling point -- Blakey started every performance full-bore and went from there. His accompaniment style was relentless, and woe to the young saxophonist who couldn't keep up, for Blakey would run him over like a fullback. Blakey differed from other bop drummers in that his style was almost wholly about the music's physical attributes. Where his contemporary Max Roach dealt extensively with the drummer's relationship to melody and timbre, for example, Blakey showed little interest in such matters. To him, jazz percussion wasn't about tone color; it was about rhythm -- first, last, and in between. Blakey's drum set was the engine that propelled the music. To the extent that he exhibited little conceptual development over the course of his long career, either as a player or as a bandleader, Blakey was limited. He was no visionary by any means. But Blakey did one thing exceedingly well, and he did it with genius, spirit, and generosity until the very end of his life. ~ Chris Kelsey, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography


Track List: Live At Slug's, NYC

1. Hey World

2. Angel Eyes

3. Slide No. 2

4. Theme


Track List: Moanin' (Laserlight)

2. You Dont Know What Love Is

4. Moanin'

5. Blue Moon

6. Theme


Track List: Live At Sweet Basil

2. Blues March (Live)

4. Moanin' (Live)


Track List: Free For All

1. Free For All

2. Hammer Head

3. The Core

4. Pensativa


Track List: Ugetsu

1. One By One

2. Ugetsu

3. Time Off

4. Ping Pong

5. I Didn't Know What Time It Was

6. On The Ginza

7. Eva

8. The High Priest

9. Conception

10. The Theme


Track List: A Night In Tunisia (Bonus Tracks)

1. A Night In Tunisia

2. Sincerely Diana

3. So Tired

4. Yama

5. Kozo's Waltz

6. When Your Lover Has Gone

7. Sincerely Diana


Track List: The Big Beat

1. The Chess Players

2. Sakeena's Vision

3. Politely

4. Dat Dere

5. Lester Left Town

6. It's Only A Paper Moon

7. It's Only A Paper Moon (Alternate Take)


Track List: Moanin'

1. Warm-Up And Dialogue Between Lee And Rudy

2. Moanin'

3. Are You Real?

4. Along Came Betty

5. The Drum Thunder Suite: First Theme: Drum Thunder/Second Theme: Cry A Blue Tear...

6. Blues March

7. Come Rain Or Come Shine

8. Moanin' (Alternate Take)


Track List: Drum Suite

1. The Sacrifice

2. Cubano Chant

3. Oscalypso

4. Nica's Tempo

5. D's Dilemma

6. Just For Marty

7. Lil' T (AKA The Third)

8. The New Message (AKA Little T) (Take 1)

9. The New Message (AKA Little T) (Take 3)


Track List: At The Jazz Corner Of The World (Volume 1 And Volume 2)

1. Hipsippy Blues (Live)

2. Chicken An' Dumplings (Live)

3. Justice (Live)

4. M & M (Live)

5. The Theme (Live)

6. Hi-Fly (Live)

8. Just Coolin' (Live)


Track List: Like Someone In Love (Bonus Tracks)

1. Like Someone In Love

2. Johnny's Blue

3. Noise In The Attic

4. Sleeping Dancer Sleep On

5. Giantis

6. Sleeping Dancer Sleep On (Alternate Take)


Track List: The Jazz Messengers At The Cafe Bohemia, Vol. 2

1. Announcement By Art Blakey

2. Sportin' Crowd

3. Like Someone In Love

4. Yesterdays

5. Avila & Tequila

6. I Waited For You (Live)

7. Just One Of Those Things

8. Hank's Symphony

9. Gone With The Wind


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The text is bullshit. All of the rich and beautiful streams of jazz continue to merge and diverge. They survive and thrive today.

Great sax solo. Wonder who it was.
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I grew up listening to great musicians such as Art B
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Dat dare was a beautiful piece by blakey
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When I was a young runny nose kid trying to understand all the jazz styles out in the 1970's, I was listening to WJZZ, Detroit (I always wanted to say those call letters:), and Rosetta The Rose Hinds said, I could tell you how jazz should sound, but Art Blakey can play it better than I can explain it. Either you will get it or you won't. She was right. I got it. The music flowed from musician to musician and the depth of each instrument was reached no matter the song.
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See you then. :)
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One of my favorites in Jazz for the last 40 years, never get tired of listening to him & the Jazz Messengers
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This bio really misses the point about Blakey . He wasn't just the hardest driving drummer in jazz but his band was the epitome of taste, tone color, and style. He always gave his musicians free range to innovate and develop their own compositions . He held back when it was appropriate and burned when called for . Far from being a conservative Buh was always innovative and intelligent - the definition of hip and that's why anyone with any brains in the 60s knew he was still the center of where ja
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Art Blakey is the best so smooth and clean. Something you would never have a problem pulling up your honey real real close body to body and feel like heaven together.
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Perfection! Another Jazz Master!
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Simply one of the Best
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yeah Art always had the monsters; brother was quite the prince
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lthe bass
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Michael Missiras
Trumpet/Corn e t / C o m p o s e r
NYC/ arctic1974@g m a i l . c o m

Lee Morgan defined the trumpet sound and ethos for the Art Blakey sound, in spite of the many fine trumpet players who preceded him and subsequently followed him.
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Never heard him live...but Moanin is one of my favorites... h a d the pleasure of hearing the Chicago Jazz Orchestra nail it at Andy's.... Sat at the bar next to the s i c still connects....
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wow this guy was the best. I love TJM. He birthed many great performers. He would lead them all.
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"Moan in'" IS jazz!
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if my memory serves me right-I saw blakey and weather report at the montreaux jazz festival in 1976 you had to be there . hichiked back to yverdon-comp l e t l y drunk and jazzhappy !!!
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He is the man. Skynndove
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Art Blakey, Kids on the Slope
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the mainstream consensus isn't really a t ' s why it's mainstream.. I dig hard bop alright..but to Quote George' s time to move on./
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the evolving mainstream consensus... e m p h a s i s on mainstream = commercial. I still dig Ornette.
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alright, Joe!
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reaching for crazy, passing madness, spin out, hit the wall and roll into heaven with hot sauce on it.
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Pandora rules !
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As I'm listening to "Jodo" live, I hear the theme song "Star Trek " love it. Fan of Star Trek.
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Pandora, you are playing ALL of my favorites jazz beats ...12/15/201 4 . . . . 2 2 0 0 h r s
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Art Blakey, the only drummer who can make a drum roll sound like the end of the world.
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Only one thing to say sweet
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Thank you, thank you, thank you for telling it like it is!

The jazz avant-garde epitomized by John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman was one of those ego-trips run on the world by those determined to replace the gut-level roots of any art form with intellectual i z e d nonsense. Alain Robbe Grillet's boring avant-garde in French literature and the cerebralized machinations of deconstructi o n i s m and etc. always disappear because they have divorced themselves from the heart of what it means to be human.
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Art Blakey is a beast. He absolutely destroys the kit while still maintaining the finesse that makes jazz so beautiful. One of my favorite drummers ever.
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The only way art blakey
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Very much enjoy Mr. Blakey and his Messengers, always have!
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I used to work with Art B's grandson here in NYC. What a wonderful man he was too and so was his lovely wife! He brought out family photos of his life growing up in Harlem with his grand-father and his mom who was Art's daughter. Art just had so much feeling when he played, and his music puts me in a good mood. I just love jazz and Art was one of the best!
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Those are the best advocates of Hard Bop. Their style is deeply connected to the preachers and the the roots of Afro American music. This is great music.
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The jazz avant-garde epitomized by John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman was one of those ego-trips run on the world by those determined to replace the gut-level roots of any art form with intellectual i z e d nonsense. Alain Robbe Grillet's boring avant-garde in French literature and the cerebralized machinations of deconstructi o n i s m and etc. always disappear because they have divorced themselves from the heart of what it means to be human.
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awesome ..I was in France back in the 60's and I remember seeing Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers at a venue in Paris the Olympia He even did sound track for a French movie Lift Up The Scalpow or something like this. great memories
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Art Blakey played groove jazz and skipped the jazz of the day. Hats off to him ...
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After listening to Art and The Jazz Messengers, I feel a lot happier, can't explain.
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His name was "Clifford Brown" the young musicians
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Young trumpet artist died in a car accident and his nickname was Brownie, early twenties was a great loss what was his first name????
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Love this jam "Moanin" just beautiful sound of pure jazz, they are so talented. Peace
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BILLY HARPER KILLIN IT ON ANGEL EYES!!!! Personnel: Art Blakey: drums; Ronnie Mathews: piano; Lawrence EVans: bass; Bill Hardman: trumpet; Julian Priester: trombone; Billy Harper: tenor saxophone.
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The messengers of jazz their name speaks for itself as for Art Blakely what cant be said? He was the smoothest! Great! !"!"
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Art Blakey (Bu) was just as iconic musician as Satchmo, Trane, Miles or anyone else that ever Swung on the bandstand not only for his explosive drumming and percussion work but, also the way his Messengers was the finishing school for soo many great musicians. His impact on modern music and the respect he received after his death only grow and resonate on a deeper level as time passes
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I wish I was alive in the 60s, or at least the 80s, so I could've listened to all this beauty live. URGH. Best damn rhythms that can't be replicated by music groups today~
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I first heard this tune on my Walkman radio bicycling to work down Minnesota Ave. in DC... and I remember saying to myself What the hell is this killer song? You know that The Messengers were not f**ing around, and old Art was daring anyone to match his groove.
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I have seen Art Blakey well over 100 times. Back in the day I went to the Lighthouse Cafe in Hermosa Beach, Ca. every night he was there and many other clubs in Los Angeles. Allways sat right next to his drums. One night at a club called Marty's on the Hill, Blakey acutually came over to my table during a break and said to meWhat's your name? I see you all the time? Wow I was in heaven!!! I bought him a drink and we talked jazz till his next set.
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