Art Blakey

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Arthur Baker
Blakey in 1985
Blakey in 1985
Background information
Birth nameArthur Blakey
Also known asAbdullah Ibn Buhaina
Born(1919-10-11)October 11, 1919
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedOctober 16, 1990(1990-10-16) (aged 71)
New York City, U.S.
GenresJazz, Bebop
Occupation(s)Drummer, bandleader
InstrumentsDrums, percussion
Years active1942–1990
LabelsBlue Note Records

Arthur "Art" Blakey (October 11, 1919 – October 16, 1990),[1] also known as Abdullah Ibn Buhaina, was an American jazz drummer and bandleader. With Kenny Clarke and Max Roach, he was one of the inventors of the modern bebop style of drumming. His band, the Jazz Messengers, was made up of many jazz musicians became famous and important in jazz.[2]

Early life and career[change | change source]

Blakey was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. By the time he was a teenager he played the piano professionally. He then taught himself to play the drums in the style of Chick Webb, Sid Catlett and Ray Bauduc. He played in New York in 1942 with Mary Lou Williams. He then went on tour with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra. From 1944 to 1947 he played with the Billy Eckstine big band, along with Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon and Fats Navarro.[3]

In 1947 Blakey recorded with an octet called the Jazz Messengers. In the early 1950s he performed and broadcast with musicians like Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, and Horace Silver. Blakey and Silver recorded together several times, like the album A Night at Birdland in 1954. Over the years the Jazz Messengers included jazz musicians such as Donald Byrd, Johnny Griffin, Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, Keith Jarrett, Chuck Mangione, Woody Shaw, JoAnne Brackeen and Wynton Marsalis. Blakey made a world tour in 1971–2 with the Giants of Jazz (with Dizzy Gillespie, Kai Winding, Sonny Stitt, Thelonious Monk and Al McKibbon).[3]

He converted to Islam during a visit to West Africa in the late 1940s and took the name Abdullah Ibn Buhaina. (He had the nickname "Bu").

Up to the 1960s Blakey recorded as a sideman with many other musicians like Jimmy Smith, Herbie Nichols, Cannonball Adderley, Grant Green, and Jazz Messengers musicians Lee Morgan and Hank Mobley. After the mid-1960s he mostly worked as a bandleader.[1]

Blakey continued performing and touring with his group into the late 1980s. He died in 1990 of lung cancer in New York City.

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 allmusic Biography
  2. "Art Blakey, Jazz Great, Is Dead; A Drummer and Band Leader, 71". New York Times article by Peter Watrous.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Grove Music Online: The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd Edition (2001)