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Art Blakey

Biography

If jazz were a university, drummer Art Blakey would be the chair of his own department. A consummate bandleader, Blakey brought dozens of excellent jazz players to national attention, helping launch countless brilliant solo careers. He also pioneered an aggressive, almost tribal style of jazz drumming which formed the backbone of Hard Bop. Blakey started out on the Big Band circuit in the 1930s, before moving to Bebop in the late 1940s and finally forming the Jazz Messengers with Horace Silver in 1954. Starting in 1955, he devoted most of his playing time to that band, which in its three-and-a-half decades featured such luminaries as Lee Morgan, Jackie McLean, Cedar Walton, Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, and Wynton Marsalis. The featured soloists wrote the majority of the tunes, a raucous blend of blues, Afro-Latin, and hard driving Bop, for which Blakey's fierce polyrhythmic attack provided the backbone.
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