Art Blakey

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Art Blakey_table_infobox_0

Art BlakeyArt Blakey_header_cell_0_0_0
Background informationArt Blakey_header_cell_0_1_0
Birth nameArt Blakey_header_cell_0_2_0 Arthur BlakeyArt Blakey_cell_0_2_1
Also known asArt Blakey_header_cell_0_3_0 Abdullah Ibn BuhainaArt Blakey_cell_0_3_1
BornArt Blakey_header_cell_0_4_0 (1919-10-11)October 11, 1919

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.Art Blakey_cell_0_4_1

DiedArt Blakey_header_cell_0_5_0 October 16, 1990(1990-10-16) (aged 71)

New York City, New York, U.S.Art Blakey_cell_0_5_1

GenresArt Blakey_header_cell_0_6_0 Jazz, hard bop, bebopArt Blakey_cell_0_6_1
Occupation(s)Art Blakey_header_cell_0_7_0 Musician, bandleaderArt Blakey_cell_0_7_1
InstrumentsArt Blakey_header_cell_0_8_0 Drums, percussionArt Blakey_cell_0_8_1
Years activeArt Blakey_header_cell_0_9_0 1942–1990Art Blakey_cell_0_9_1
LabelsArt Blakey_header_cell_0_10_0 Blue NoteArt Blakey_cell_0_10_1
Associated actsArt Blakey_header_cell_0_11_0 Art Blakey_cell_0_11_1
WebsiteArt Blakey_header_cell_0_12_0 Art Blakey_cell_0_12_1

Arthur Blakey (October 11, 1919 – October 16, 1990) was an American jazz drummer and bandleader. Art Blakey_sentence_0

He was briefly known as Abdullah Ibn Buhaina after he converted to Islam for a short time in the late 1940s. Art Blakey_sentence_1

Blakey made a name for himself in the 1940s in the big bands of Fletcher Henderson and Billy Eckstine. Art Blakey_sentence_2

He then worked with bebop musicians Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, and Dizzy Gillespie. Art Blakey_sentence_3

In the mid-1950s, Horace Silver and Blakey formed the Jazz Messengers, a group that the drummer was associated with for the next 35 years. Art Blakey_sentence_4

The group was formed as a collective of contemporaries, but over the years the band became known as an incubator for young talent, including Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, Lee Morgan, Benny Golson, Kenny Dorham, Hank Mobley, Donald Byrd, Jackie McLean, Johnny Griffin, Curtis Fuller, Chuck Mangione, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, Cedar Walton, Woody Shaw, Terence Blanchard, and Wynton Marsalis. Art Blakey_sentence_5

The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz calls the Jazz Messengers "the archetypal hard bop group of the late 50s". Art Blakey_sentence_6

Blakey was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame (in 1981), the Grammy Hall of Fame (in 1998 and 2001), and was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. Art Blakey_sentence_7

He was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1991. Art Blakey_sentence_8

Childhood and early career Art Blakey_section_0

Blakey was born on October 11, 1919, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, probably to a single mother who died shortly after his birth; her name is often cited as Marie Roddicker (or Roddericker) although Blakey's own 1937 marriage license shows her maiden name to have been Jackson. Art Blakey_sentence_9

His biological father was Bertram Thomas Blakey, originally of Ozark, Alabama, whose family migrated northward to Pittsburgh sometime between 1900 and 1910. Art Blakey_sentence_10

Blakey's uncle, Rubi Blakey, was a popular Pittsburgh singer, choral leader, and teacher who attended Fisk University. Art Blakey_sentence_11

Blakey is described as having been "raised with his siblings by a family friend who became a surrogate mother"; he "received some piano lessons at school", and was able to spend some further time teaching himself. Art Blakey_sentence_12

According to Leslie Gourse's biography, the surrogate mother figure was Annie Peron. Art Blakey_sentence_13

The stories related by family and friends, and by Blakey himself, are contradictory as to how long he spent with the Peron family, but it is clear he spent some time with them growing up. Art Blakey_sentence_14

Equally clouded by contradiction are stories of Blakey's early music career. Art Blakey_sentence_15

It is agreed by several sources that by the time he was in seventh grade, Blakey was playing music full-time and had begun to take on adult responsibilities, playing the piano to earn money and learning to be a band leader. Art Blakey_sentence_16

He switched from piano to drums at an uncertain date in the early 1930s. Art Blakey_sentence_17

An oft-quoted account of the event states that Blakey was forced at gunpoint to move from piano to drums by a club owner, to allow Erroll Garner to take over on piano. Art Blakey_sentence_18

The veracity of this story is called into question in the Gourse biography, as Blakey himself gives other accounts in addition to this one. Art Blakey_sentence_19

The style Blakey assumed was "the aggressive swing style of Chick Webb, Sid Catlett and Ray Bauduc". Art Blakey_sentence_20

From 1939 to 1944, Blakey played with fellow Pittsburgh native Mary Lou Williams and toured with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra. Art Blakey_sentence_21

While sources differ on the timing, most agree that he traveled to New York with Williams in 1942 before joining Henderson a year later. Art Blakey_sentence_22

(Some accounts have him joining Henderson as early as 1939.) Art Blakey_sentence_23

While playing in Henderson's band, Blakey was subjected to an unprovoked attack by a white Georgia police officer which necessitated a steel plate being inserted into his head. Art Blakey_sentence_24

These injuries caused him to be declared unfit for service in World War II. Art Blakey_sentence_25

He led his own band at the Tic Toc Club in Boston for a short time. Art Blakey_sentence_26

From 1944 to 1947, Blakey worked with Billy Eckstine's big band. Art Blakey_sentence_27

Through this band, Blakey became associated with the bebop movement, along with his fellow band members Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon, Fats Navarro, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Sarah Vaughan among others. Art Blakey_sentence_28

After the Eckstine band broke up, Blakey states that he traveled to Africa for a time: "In 1947, after the Eckstine band broke up, we—took a trip to Africa. Art Blakey_sentence_29

I was supposed to stay there three months and I stayed two years because I wanted to live among the people and find out just how they lived and—about the drums especially." Art Blakey_sentence_30

He stated in a 1979 interview, discussing the context of the decision at the time: Art Blakey_sentence_31

Blakey is known to have recorded from 1947 to 1949. Art Blakey_sentence_32

He studied and converted to Islam during this period, taking the name Abdullah Ibn Buhaina, although he stopped being a practicing Muslim in the 1950s and continued to perform under the name "Art Blakey" throughout his career. Art Blakey_sentence_33

As the 1950s began, Blakey was backing musicians such as Davis, Parker, Gillespie, Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk; he is often considered to have been Monk's most empathetic drummer, and he played on both Monk's first recording session as a leader (for Blue Note Records in 1947) and his final one (in London in 1971), as well as many in between. Art Blakey_sentence_34

Blakey toured with Buddy DeFranco from 1951 to 1953 in a band that also included Kenny Drew. Art Blakey_sentence_35

The Jazz Messengers Art Blakey_section_1

Main article: The Jazz Messengers Art Blakey_sentence_36

On December 17, 1947, Blakey led a group known as "Art Blakey's Messengers" in his first recording session as a leader, for Blue Note Records. Art Blakey_sentence_37

The records were released as 78 rpm records at the time, and two of the songs were released on the "New Sounds" 10" LP compilation (BLP 5010). Art Blakey_sentence_38

The octet included Kenny Dorham, Sahib Shihab, Musa Kaleem, and Walter Bishop, Jr. Art Blakey_sentence_39

Around the same time (1947 or 1949) he led a big band called Seventeen Messengers. Art Blakey_sentence_40

The band proved to be financially unstable and broke up soon after. Art Blakey_sentence_41

The use of the Messengers tag finally stuck with the group co-led at first by both Blakey and pianist Horace Silver, though the name was not used on the earliest of their recordings. Art Blakey_sentence_42

The "Jazz Messengers" name was first used for this group on a 1954 recording nominally led by Silver, with Blakey, Mobley, Dorham and Doug Watkins—the same quintet recorded The Jazz Messengers at the Cafe Bohemia the following year, still functioning as a collective. Art Blakey_sentence_43

Donald Byrd replaced Dorham, and the group recorded an album called simply The Jazz Messengers for Columbia Records in 1956. Art Blakey_sentence_44

Blakey took over the group name when Silver left after the band's first year (taking Mobley and Watkins with him to form a new quintet), and the band name evolved to include Blakey's name, eventually settling upon "Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers". Art Blakey_sentence_45

Blakey led the group for the rest of his life. Art Blakey_sentence_46

It was the archetypal hard bop group of the 1950s, playing a driving, aggressive extension of bop with pronounced blues roots. Art Blakey_sentence_47

Towards the end of the 1950s, the saxophonists Johnny Griffin and Benny Golson were in turn briefly members of the group. Art Blakey_sentence_48

Golson, as musical director, wrote several jazz standards which began as part of the band book, such as "I Remember Clifford", "Along Came Betty", and "Blues March", and were frequently revived by later editions of the group. Art Blakey_sentence_49

"Whisper Not" and "Are You Real" were other Golson compositions for Blakey. Art Blakey_sentence_50

From 1959 to 1961, the group featured Wayne Shorter on tenor saxophone, Lee Morgan on trumpet, pianist Bobby Timmons and Jymie Merritt on bass. Art Blakey_sentence_51

The group recorded several albums for Blue Note Records including The Big Beat and A Night in Tunisia. Art Blakey_sentence_52

From 1961 to 1964, the band was a sextet that added trombonist Curtis Fuller and replaced Morgan, Timmons, and Merritt with Freddie Hubbard, Cedar Walton, and Reggie Workman, respectively. Art Blakey_sentence_53

The group evolved into a proving ground for young jazz talent, and recorded albums such as Buhaina's Delight, Caravan, and Free For All. Art Blakey_sentence_54

While veterans occasionally reappeared in the group, by and large, each iteration of the Messengers included a lineup of new young players. Art Blakey_sentence_55

Having the Messengers on one's resume was a rite of passage in the jazz world, and conveyed immediate bona fides. Art Blakey_sentence_56

Many Messenger alumni went on to become jazz stars in their own right, such as: Lee Morgan, Benny Golson, Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Timmons, Curtis Fuller, Chuck Mangione, Keith Jarrett, Joanne Brackeen, Woody Shaw, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Terence Blanchard, Donald Harrison and Mulgrew Miller. Art Blakey_sentence_57

For a complete list of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers alumni, including some who did not actually record with the band, see The Jazz Messengers. Art Blakey_sentence_58

Later career Art Blakey_section_2

Blakey went on to record dozens of albums with a constantly changing group of Jazz Messengers. Art Blakey_sentence_59

He had a policy of encouraging young musicians: as he remarked on-mic during the live session which resulted in the A Night at Birdland albums in 1954: "I'm gonna stay with the youngsters. Art Blakey_sentence_60

When these get too old I'll get some younger ones. Art Blakey_sentence_61

Keeps the mind active." Art Blakey_sentence_62

After weathering the fusion era in the 1970s with some difficulty (recordings from this period are less plentiful and include attempts to incorporate instruments like electric piano), Blakey's band was revitalized in the early 1980s with the advent of neotraditionalist jazz. Art Blakey_sentence_63

Wynton Marsalis was for a time the band's trumpeter and musical director, and even after Marsalis' departure Blakey's band continued as a proving ground for Johnny O'Neal, Philip Harper, Terence Blanchard, Donald Harrison and Kenny Garrett, among others. Art Blakey_sentence_64

He continued performing and touring with the group through the end of the 1980s. Art Blakey_sentence_65

Ralph Peterson, Jr. joined in 1983 as a second drummer due to Blakey's failing health. Art Blakey_sentence_66

Ron Wynn notes that Blakey had "played with such force and fury that he eventually lost much of his hearing, and at the end of his life, often played strictly by instinct." Art Blakey_sentence_67

He stubbornly refused to wear a hearing aid, arguing that it threw his timing off, so most of the time he played by sensing vibrations. Art Blakey_sentence_68

Javon Jackson, who played in Blakey's final lineup, claimed that he exaggerated the extent of his hearing loss. Art Blakey_sentence_69

"In my opinion, his deafness was a little exaggerated, and it was exaggerated by him. Art Blakey_sentence_70

He didn't hear well out of one ear, but he could hear just fine out the other one. Art Blakey_sentence_71

He could hear you just fine when you played something badly and he was quick to say 'Hey, you missed that there.' Art Blakey_sentence_72

But anything like 'I don't think I'll be available for the next gig', he'd say 'Huh? Art Blakey_sentence_73

I can't hear you.'" Art Blakey_sentence_74

Another bandmate, Geoffrey Keezer, claimed that 'He was selectively deaf. Art Blakey_sentence_75

He'd go deaf when you asked him about money, but if it was real quiet and you talked to him one-on-one, then he could hear you just fine.'" Art Blakey_sentence_76

Blakey's final performances were in July 1990. Art Blakey_sentence_77

He died on October 16 of lung cancer. Art Blakey_sentence_78

Drumming style Art Blakey_section_3

Blakey assumed an aggressive swing style of contemporaries Chick Webb, Sid Catlett and Ray Bauduc early in his career, and is known, alongside Kenny Clarke and Max Roach as one of the inventors of the modern bebop style of drumming. Art Blakey_sentence_79

Max Roach described him thus: Art Blakey_sentence_80

His drumming form made continuing use of the traditional grip, though in later appearances he is also seen using a matched grip. Art Blakey_sentence_81

In a 1973 drum battle with Ginger Baker he can be seen repeatedly changing grip during his performance. Art Blakey_sentence_82

As the supporting materials for Ken Burns's series Jazz notes, "Blakey is a major figure in modern jazz and an important stylist in drums. Art Blakey_sentence_83

From his earliest recording sessions with Eckstine, and particularly in his historic sessions with Monk in 1947, he exudes power and originality, creating a dark cymbal sound punctuated by frequent loud snare and bass drum accents in triplets or cross-rhythms." Art Blakey_sentence_84

This source continues: Art Blakey_sentence_85

Legacy Art Blakey_section_4

The legacy of Blakey and his bands is not only the music they produced, but also the opportunities they provided for several generations of jazz musicians. Art Blakey_sentence_86

The Jazz Messengers nurtured and influenced many of the key figures of the hard bop movement of the late 1950s to early 1960s, and of the Neotraditionalist movement of the 1980s and 1990s, both of which had the Jazz Messengers in a stylistically seminal role. Art Blakey_sentence_87

In the words of drummer Cindy Blackman shortly after Blakey's death, "When jazz was in danger of dying out [during the 1970s], there was still a scene. Art Blakey_sentence_88

Art kept it going." Art Blakey_sentence_89

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. Art Blakey_sentence_90

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Art Blakey among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire. Art Blakey_sentence_91

Personal life Art Blakey_section_5

In addition to his musical interests, Blakey was described by Jerry "Tiger" Pearson as a storyteller, as having a "big appetite for music [...] women [and] food", and an interest in boxing. Art Blakey_sentence_92

Blakey married four times, and had long-lasting and other relationships throughout his life. Art Blakey_sentence_93

He married his first wife, Clarice Stewart, while yet a teen, then Diana Bates (1956), Atsuko Nakamura (1968), and Anne Arnold (1983). Art Blakey_sentence_94

He had 10 children from these relationships — daughters Gwendolyn, Evelyn, Jackie, Kadijah, Sakeena and Akira, and sons Art Jr., Takashi, Kenji and Gamal. Art Blakey_sentence_95

Sandy Warren, another longtime companion of Blakey, published a book of reminiscences and favorite food recipes from the period of the late 1970s to early 1980s when Blakey lived in Northfield, New Jersey, with Warren and their son, Takashi. Art Blakey_sentence_96

Blakey traveled for a year in West Africa (1948) to explore the culture and religion of Islam he would adopt alongside changing his name; his conversion took place in the late 1940s at a time when other African-Americans were being influenced by the Ahmadi missionary Kahili Ahmed Nasir, according to the Encyclopedia of Muslim-American History, and at one time in that period, Blakey led a turbaned, Qur'an-reading jazz band called the 17 Messengers (perhaps all Muslim, reflecting notions of the Prophet's and music's roles as conduits of the divine message). Art Blakey_sentence_97

A friend recollects that when "Art took up the religion [...] he did so on his own terms", saying that "Muslim imams would come over to his place, and they would pray and talk, then a few hours later [we] would go [...] to a restaurant [...and] have a drink and order some ribs", and suggests that reasons for the name change included the pragmatic: that "like many other black jazz musicians who adopted Muslim names", musicians did so to allow them to "check into hotels and enter 'white only places' under the assumption they were not African-American". Art Blakey_sentence_98

Drummer Keith Hollis, reflecting on Blakey's early life, states that his fellow drummer "wound up doing drugs to cope"; like many of the era, Blakey and his bands were known for their drug use (namely heroin) while traveling and performing (with varying accounts of Blakey's influence on others in this regard). Art Blakey_sentence_99

Other specific recollections have Blakey forswearing serious drink while playing (after being disciplined by drummer Sid Catlett early in his career for drinking while performing), and suggest that the influence of "clean-living cat" Wynton Marsalis led to a period where he was less affected by drugs during performances. Art Blakey_sentence_100

Blakey was a heavy smoker; he appears in a cloud of smoke on the Buhaina's Delight album cover, and in extended footage of a 1973 appearance with Ginger Baker, Blakey begins a long drummers' "duel" with cigarette alight. Art Blakey_sentence_101

Death Art Blakey_section_6

Blakey had been living in Manhattan when he died on October 16, 1990, of lung cancer, five days after his 71st birthday, at St. Vincent's Hospital and Medical Center. Art Blakey_sentence_102

He was survived by six daughters (Gwendolyn, Evelyn, Jackie, Sakeena, Kadijah and Akira), and three sons (Takashi, Gamal, and Kenji). Art Blakey_sentence_103

At his funeral at the Abyssinian Baptist Church on October 22, 1990, a tribute group assembled of past Jazz Messengers including Brian Lynch, Javon Jackson, Geoffrey Keezer, Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard, Valery Ponomarev, Benny Golson, Donald Harrison, Essiet Okon Essiet, and drummer Kenny Washington performed several of the band's most celebrated tunes, such as Golson's "Along Came Betty", Bobby Timmons' "Moanin'", and Wayne Shorter's "One by One". Art Blakey_sentence_104

Jackson, a member of Blakey's last Jazz Messengers group, recalled how his experiences with the drummer changed his life, saying that "He taught me how to be a man. Art Blakey_sentence_105

How to stand up and be accounted for". Art Blakey_sentence_106

Musicians Jackie McLean, Ray Bryant, Dizzy Gillespie, and Max Roach also paid tribute to Blakey at his funeral. Art Blakey_sentence_107

Awards Art Blakey_section_7

Discography Art Blakey_section_8

Main article: Art Blakey discography Art Blakey_sentence_108

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: Blakey.