Friday, October 11, 2019

Art Blakey's 100th Birthday

Today (Friday, October 11, 2019) would have been the late American Jazz legend Art Blakey's 100th birthday.

We asked a number of local drummers for their thoughts on this unforgettable musical titan. Hera re the quotes:

Sean O'Grady
His peers in the 50’s used to call him Thunder. No holding back and not worrying about sounding polite, Art Blakey along with Max Roach and Kenny Clarke practically invented Be Bop drumming. Be Bop bent and broke the rules of harmony, melody & rhythm that defined jazz music up t’il then. Later as a “hard bopper”
Art also started incorporating elements of R & B and Latin music into his style and his repertoire. As a young rocker , when I first heard Art Blakey I was drawn to his energy but struggled with his sound. The drums were tuned really high and didn’t have the big thuddy decay that I was used to hearing. I later realized that sound helped a drummer of the time cut through on stage and on recording sessions so your parts and licks would speak when you needed to be heard! 
My friend and killer drummer Dave King saw him live shortly before he died. Dave said they had to help him on stage but when he sat down all the fire was still there! If you don’t grow up with jazz music many young players think they need to be quiet and subtle to sound authentic. Certainly dynamics are a major part of jazz drumming but jazz also needs to be in your face and joyful and free spirited just the way Art Blakey played night after night.
He was a mentor to countless young musicians over 30 years of leading the Jazz Messengers and remains an inspiration to me and countless musicians all over the world! Mr. Blakey was also known as an appreciator of not just song, but wine and women as well. He would have fit right in here in Hamilton.
Robin Pirson (New Rebel Westerners)
He was such a musical player! I loved the way he incorporated rudiments into his playing and solos....he had one of the finest press rolls I  ever encountered.... yet his technique never overshadowed his musicality.
Cassius Pereira
He was a legend, I used to listen to A Night at the Birdland a lot when I was younger, it was one of those special records. As a drummer, just a big thank you for being such an inspiration!
Now for some videos from the man himself.

Video above courtesy of 60otaku4

Video above courtesy of DRUMMERWORLD by Bernhard Castiglioni

Video above courtesy of Jazz at Ronnie Scott's

Links: Art BlakeyOther 100th birthdays

Previous (Hug a Drummer Day Videos ft Sean O'Grady) - - - Next (Hug A Bassist Day Videos ft Michael Hickey)

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