Art Blakey

One of the most influential drummers of them all, Art Blakey's distinctive, aggressive style had a profound effect on 20th century jazz and he is credited with inventing the bebop rhythm along with Kenny Clarke and Max Roach. From Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Blakey was still in his teens when he started playing piano and leading his own band. He later decided to take up drums, touring with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra in the early 1940s before joining Billy Eckstine's big band and - closely associated with Miles Davis, Horace Silver and Charlie Parker - he was identified as one of the primary forces in the modern jazz movement. Blakey's aggressive style borrowed heavily from African music and his sessions with Thelonious Monk in 1947 are regarded as classic. His partnership with Silver also produced influential works, including the 1954 album A Night At Birdland. He first formed the Jazz Messengers as a trailblazing bebop group with Silver, Hank Mobley and Kenny Dorham, although it quickly became a fluid line-up and Blakey deliberately employed gifted younger musicians, including Donald Byrd, Johnny Griffin, Wayne Shorter, Lee Morgan, Keith Jarrett, Freddie Hubbard, Wynton Marsalis and Woody Shaw. He made dozens of albums with an ever-changing line-up of the Jazz Messengers and still toured with them into the late 1980s, despite having to play on instinct when his hearing failed. He died in 1990.

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Stations Featuring Art Blakey

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