Art Blakey, king of the drums.

Someone inquired about North African music, and while perusing my collection in an attempt to help; I ran across Art Blakey, who is neither North or South African, but who's music is "king" of the African Beat.

I give you "The African Beat"; featuring ART BLAKEY, drums; SOLOMON G. ILORI, vocal, penny whistle, talking drum; CHIEF BEY, conga, telegraph drum, double gong; MONTEGO JOE, bambara drum, double gong, corboro drum, log drum; GARVIN MASSEAUX, chekere, African maracas, conga; JAMES OLA FOLAMI, conga; ROBERT CROWDER, BATA DRUM, conga; CURTIS FULLER, tympani; YUSEF LATEEF, oboe, flute, tenor sax, cow horn, thumb piano; AHMED ABDUL MALIK, bass.

"Orgy in Rythm Vols one and two" is the next CD. ART BLAKEY, ARTHUR TAYLOR AND JO JONES on drums; SABU, bongo, timbales; 'POTATO' VALDEZ, JOSE VALIENTE congas; UBALDO NIET, timbales; EVILIO QUINTERO, tree log, HERBIE MAN, flute; RAY BRYANT, piano; WENDELL MARSHALL bass.

These two CD's will take you to the jungle, make you want to put on a grass skirt, and shake "yo booty".

What's your favorite Blakey?
Being sure of yourself is more than half the battle and he seems capable of doing a number things.
Moanin would be my fave Blakey, have an original LP. I worked for the NY/NJ Port Authority in their traffic engineering dept back in the 70's and one of the clerks in that dept was Blakey's daughter, Gwen. She was sure proud of her papa.--Mrmitch
Moanin is my favorite Blakey as well. "Along Came Betty" by Benny Golson, on that album is also one of my favorites.
"Volcano Eruptus", is a most appropriate name. I saw him live, and I would like to add "Thunder drums" to the list.
Another thing about Blakey is he invented tapping his drum rim( the metal ring around the drum that holds the skin on) when he wanted one of the members in The Jazz Messengers to solo or improvise during live gigs and he would then tap it again when he wanted them to wrap it up. He was always in control on where a song was heading or going. One of the best band leaders ever because the word control and jazz are polar opposites. Listen for the tap on his live recordings. He in my humble opinion was the standard by which all jazz drummers are measured. My favorite recording by him is on MCA/Impulse label Art Blakey / Jazz Messenger
Although Art had many groups of messengers, this group might have been his best. Lee Morgan on trumpet, gets my vote for best jazz trumpet ever. Curtis Fuller went on to form "The Jazztet" with Art Farmer and Benny Golson. When each musician in a group is a star, the music has to be good.
Three Blind Mice....... not sure if it's my first place favorite, but it's a mighty fine record !
Adam18, while all of Blakey's different groups were consistently good, they were also very different. Which one was the best depends on your mood when you're listening to it. With me, which ever Blakey I'm listening to at the time, was the best.
Not the first to observe this, I know, but is there anything else quite like the way Lee Morgan's trumpet solo comes screaming out of the gate in "Moanin""? it gets me every time.

As for Mr. Blakey - it must be said he just swings bigger and badder than anyone else. Gotta check out those African recordings..
In my opinion, Lee Morgan was the best jazz trumpet ever; and there are many enthusiastic fans who have the same opinion.
Orpheus - I'd have a hard time saying you and his many enthusiastic fans are wrong. Did some listening yesterday with this question in mind, and a lot of the time he makes Miles sound academic by comparison - a guy who, I've often felt, sounds interested more in what's his head than the trumpet itself. I think Clifford Brown and Donald Byrd also had some great moments during their Art Blakey stints. And there is often a sense that Lee Morgan is great and he knows it, whereas Brownie and Byrd tend to just play their hearts out in a way that's hard to beat. Still, I don't think anybody ever really quite "had his way with the trumpet" the way Lee Morgan did. In his hands, the brass just becomes a living animal.

Cflux, you've compared Lee Morgan to my other favorites; this proves you are a true connoisseur of jazz trumpet.

As great as Miles, Clifford, and Donald Byrd were; Lee Morgan soars like an eagle above them on "Search for the New Land". While his mastery of the trumpet was beyond reach, his musical imagination approaches that of Mingus, on "Search for the New Land". I can visualize a modern dance troupe doing a thing to this music.

I'm sure you have "The Best of Lee Morgan" on Blue Note. I can hear the words on his version of "Since I Fell For You", better than I can on a vocal version.

Enjoy the music.
Orpheus - aside from what Lee Morgan did with Blakey, all I've got is "Sidewinder," "Leeway" and "Procrastinator" - have been curious about "Search for the New Land" for a while, just decided to scoop it up on Amazon, your Mingus comment sold me... thanks for the tip!
Orpheus and Cfluxa,

This is a fun and interesting discussion. Lee Morgan is one of the greats of jazz trumpet(my passion). Another good morgan solo, "I`m Old Fashion" from Coltrane`s "Blue Train". He did some very good sessions with Jackie Mclean. Another truly great but near forgotten trumpeter was Fats Navarro, who`s influence I hear so clearly with Cliford Brown.

However I can`t place Lee Morgan above Miles Davis, Miles from the early 1950s to the mid 1960s is simply wonderful trumpet playing. At least for me he could express such beautiful emotion with that horn, be it muted or open bell, just beautiful.

As for current trumpeters, I love the playing of Nicholas Payton, chechout the CD "Fingerpainting" music all written by Herbie Hancock,nick plays his heart out!
Charles1dad, I like Miles, I have many of his records and I can empathize with your statement. As a matter of fact I have given your statement so much consideration that this week will be devoted to comparing the two between the time period you stated.

Charles1dad, the time period you stated is my favorite in regard to Miles. He was to the trumpet as Mingus was to the bass. Their musical contributions overshadowed their instrument. While I wouldn't pick Mingus for the all time best bass player, he was a giant in jazz; and so it was with Miles.

I begin my review with the best jazz LP ever, "Somthin Else" headed by Cannonball Adderly. This LP contains the most beautiful Miles ever. Hank Jones on piano; Sam Jones, bass; and Blakey on drums complete this group. These five musicians are like five fingers in a glove, they function as one hand.

First, is "Autumn Leaves". After the intro, we hear that ever so beautiful trumpet of Miles playing the melody. Next we have "Love For Sale". Again, there's that Miles trumpet capturing the essence of this tune better than a vocal version. This is followed by "Somthin Else". On this one we hear the classic "hard bop" Miles, and he soars (but not as high as Lee Morgan). "One For Daddy-O" is Cannonball's time to fly, and he zooms into the stratosphere with Miles on his tail; can't leave that melodic piano of Hank Jones out on this one, Blakey play's a supporting role throughout.

Now we have "Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, A Night In Tunisia"; Lee Morgan, trumpet; Wayne Shorter, tenor sax; Bobby Timmons, piano; and jymie merritt, bass.

On the first cut, "A Night In Tunisia", Thunder Drums comes ripping out striking lightning and raising thunder from his magical drums. He's sounding like three drummers all beating at the same time. Wayne Shorter comes in, followed by Lee Morgan blowing notes faster than a "tommy gun" can spit out bullets, and not one of them slurred or out of place. (eat your heart out Miles). This is the one thing Miles could never do. We are listening to the personification of "Hard bop in the big city", on this jam.

On to Miles home turf, "beauty". "Since I Fell For You" on "The Best of Lee Morgan" is the tune I've chosen to display Lee's talents in that arena. He gets so much into the essence of this tune that his instrumental version conveys more than the vocal. As beautiful as Lee can blow, I concede this to Miles; however, Lee could be titled "Mr. hard bop", and this is where he soars over Miles.

The trumpet to Lee Morgan was as the scalpel is to a skilled surgeon, he could do more with it than anyone else. All of Blakey's "Jazz Messengers" with Lee Morgan can verify this. Miles once stated that he could never blow as fast as "Diz", and Lee can blow even faster than Diz. But what good is speed if you don't have the ideas with the speed; and Lee had the ideas to match.

I am more convinced now than before, that Lee Morgan's virtuosity on trumpet was unmatched by anyone.

Orpheus10, that was an enjoyable read. I admire so many jazz musicians that to absolutely say one is "best" is beyond my ability. Lee Morgan ranks among the very best of the trumpeters(I a have number of his recordings). In my case I make an emotional connection with Miles more often, of course this is just personal preference. Tonight I`ll listen to Lee Morgan`s "Tom Cat" CD and then Mile`s "Seven Steps to Heaven". I love jazz.

Best Regards,

Some people say there are two kinds of music, good and bad; I say the two kinds are music you like and music you don't like. Whatever kind you like is the best, and don't let me or anyone else tell you different.
I have Moanin, The Jazz Messengers and others, but I just don't get into Blakey's drumming style or its sound. I recognize that he was great but... I don't know if it's the sound of the traps he played or how he played them, but his sound signature sometimes grates on me.
i recently heard johnny griffin "blowin session" w/ blakey and coltrance and i was thinking it had the best drumming i've ever heard anywhere--i've never heard anyone who drives a piece like he does.
Art plays in front of the beat. He gives it an energetic sound but I can understand Foster_9's view. Many find that the pocket lies slightly behind the beat. In contrast, playing behind the beat gives a more relaxed feel. Some drummers can play both styles with ease and move around in order to create tension and release in the music. Think Elvin Jones.

Here is an example you should feel how it relaxes and then speeds up. This feel is entirely controlled by the relationship between the bass and drummer. You can feel them both working the groove to relax and then alternately
Compare my last video with this version played with the same horns and a different rhythm section.

Cold Sweat

This is Melvin Parker on drums (Maceo's brother). You can still feel the tension and release but the overall feel is much more laid back than the first example I gave. These two examples show how influential the rhythm section can be. Some will prefer one version over the other....neither is necessarily the "correct" way to play....a lot depends on the musicians mood that very night.
Shadorne, can you help me figure out; why do I keep looking for James Brown to come running out on the stage and grab the mike.
Around 20 years ago I saw Maceo with Fred Wesley at Blues Alley and their drummer was Melvin. I believe the only other instrumentation besides them was one guitar, bass and keys. Anyway it was virtually a JB show without JB, except our table was literally just a few feet from the stage in a small club, which of course would be impossible with JB. Like many great musicians, Maceo sings like he plays. One of my fav shows ever. Later on, when instrumental funk started being hip with the jam-band white kids, he got popular as a solo and quit playing such intimate, jazz-oriented venues in favor of larger rock-oriented concert halls (around here it was the new 9:30 Club, which he could sell out).

Anyway, back on topic: For max jungle groove, don't overlook side 1 of Art's "Drum Suite" album, recorded in '56 and released on Columbia the next year, with Jo Jones doubling the drum thunder quotient along with Candido and Sabu on bongos and Charles Wright on additional drums and percussion. The great Ray Bryant debuted his classic "Cubano Chant" and Oscar Pettiford played bass and cello. (Side 2 is from a different, previously-recorded session of the Jazz Messengers with Jackie McLean, Bill Hardman, Sam Dockery and Spanky DeBrest -- hands-down the best jazz name ever, or should I say hands-on?). I have it on 6-eye and it'll blow your socks off.
Zaikesman, I just checked; I have that. It's Blakey's most memorable in my opinion. That lineup was too incredible for words. Oscar Pettiford is the best bassist ever, or ever will be. (all music is subjective)