Français: : Great drummers

Blakey Art

Musicians or bands:

Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, The Jazz Messengers, Thelonious Monk, Sony Rollins, Wayne Shorter, Miles Davis, Mac Coy Tyner, Freddie Hubbard, Benny Golson, Milt Jackson, John Lewis, Wynton Marsalis

Biography and commentary:

At Blakey is one of the inventors of the Be-Bop (born in 1919, died 1990) and initiator and leader of the "hard bop" (more violent and africanizing version (with syncopated rhythms) in reaction to the "Cool-jazz "). He was also a master of military drumming, “classisized” the crescendo “buzz” roll (wih double strokes) for his jazz intros. He is also one of the inventors of the Latin drumset playing (Cuba, Brazil) with "Papa" Jo Jones , Kenny Clarke and Max Roach , which are all inspired by the rhythms of the traditional percussions (cowbells, congas, tamborim, etc.) transformed in their own way (thanks to the work with percussionists emigrating to New York as Chano Pozo ). Among their bell figures (played on the dome of the ride cymbal) we can recognize the "New-York Mozambique" of Steve Gadd or Elvin Jones , who are rhythmical "slidings" of Cuban "Mozambique" (called "Montuno" and which does not come from Mozambique), itself inspired by Cuban carnival rhythms which are not unlike the samba of Brazil (nearby). From African inspiration, but not directly African (because of the censorship of American "White" colonists), this rhythmic research towards their "roots", led him to observe them directly in Africa (Ghana), but Art Blakey didn't see a correspondence with his knowledge coming from Cuban musicians (and even less, Americans) because the former African-American slaves did not necessarily come from the English colonies (though often deported from Ghanaian ports, owned by the Dutch at the time of the "slave trade"), probably too far away, but often French (often with Portuguese merchants and navigators and sometimes the complicity of African "kings" (which saw an opportunity to get rid of rebels or rivals) and later Spanish masters (Cuba) or even Arab (etc.): no one is “pure” in this unfortunate history of deportation and extreme man's exploitation of man, which already began with the first American colony of Christopher Columbus (Italian), at a time when the aristocracy and religious leaders still doubted the humanity of the "Black" people in Europe). Art probably also underestimated the extraordinary African cultural rhythmic and percussive variety (and the ability of some deportees to play "in secret", especially in the Caribbean islands and Brazil), coming from a system that was long tribal and therefore preserved community particularities, especially in art and notably in music, and this, up to the instruments and how to play them. Art Blakey is nevertheless a "monument" of the history of jazz and drumset, who was and is recognized by everyone, certainly for the conviction of his playing and his daring “commitments” (violence, repetitions, virtuoso gestures, "chaos" of some rolls (listen to the introduction of "The drum thunder suite" from the album "Moanin”, from 1958), contrasting with an impeccable classical European technique of military drumming (solo in "Blues March" notably), powerful and precise strokes with the feet, precise and contrasted accents and ghost notes, not without subtlety, syncopated playing on the toms in a very African way, etc.). Without having the complexity of playing of Max Roach, Roy Haynes , Buddy Rich , Kenny Clarke, Joe Morello and Elvin Jones, his contemporaries, he had the ability of original musical choices getting to the point and breathtaking mastery and energy of interpretation, which well deserves the "Hard" adjective.

Marc De Douvan, publication in French: January 3, 2006 (for the translation in English: July 12, 2015)

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© 2005 Marc de Douvan Crédits Mentions légales