Below is Art Blakey’s Jazz Messenger’s live performance of Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night in Tunisia,” as posted on YouTube by Art Jazz1. The video (without audio) is used in the brief description of Blakey and his accomplishments above. The video features Personnel are Blakey on drums, Lee Morgan on trumpet, Bobby Timmons on piano, Benny Golson on tenor sax and Jaymie Merritt on bass.
The video briefly discusses Blakey’s importance, which is twofold: He was a major influence on drumming and a conduit through which many well-known musicians found their legs in jazz.
Here are some of the sources I used. Wikipedia and a site dedicated to Blakey provide background and biographical information for Blakey, who was from Pittsburgh. Bob Perkins at WRTI discussed the similarities and differences of Blakey and Duke Ellington as mentors. Rick Mattingly at the Percussive Arts Society excerpted a comment Blakey made to Modern Drummer’s Chip Stern which I in turn used in the video. Mattingly also described Blakey’s style:
But despite his technical abilities, Blakey was known for a more straight-ahead style of timekeeping than most of his bebop contemporaries. He typically maintained a strong hi-hat on beats 2 and 4, made sure there was no doubt as to where “1” was, and instead of setting up sections and phrases with elaborate fills, he would lead into them with powerful press rolls. Blakey is also credited with originating the oft-used cross-stick on beat 4 and of inspiring the development of riveted cymbals by hanging his key ring over the wingnut of his ride cymbal to produce a sizzle effect.
Perhaps Blakey’s highest profile song is “Moanin’ ,” which was posted at The Daily Music Break some time back. Other important Blakey-associated songs are “Blues March” and “Along Came Betty.” I phrase it that way because Blakey wrote none of the three. “Moanin’ ” was written by Bobby Timmons. Golson wrote “Blues March” and “Along Came Betty.”
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