Originally Posted by curiousnomad
I saw Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers at a JazzMobile concert outdoors at Grants Tomb on the edge of Harlem in NYC ~ 1978. I still remember it vividly! The first tune was Free for All (from one of the greatest Blue Note Albums). From the downbeat it was one of the most exciting concerts I have ever seen. When you watched him play, it was pure music. You didn't see the kind of technique that some people have acquired these days (not so important), but you FELT an amazing force that ignited the band and music and made you realize that there was something special here. The feeling in the music sent chills up your spine.
Just listening to those old Jazz Messengers albums sends chills up my spine, I can't begin to imagine what it must have been like to experience Blakey live!
Blakey opened the door to jazz for me. I remember exactly when and how. I heard a Jazz Messengers version of Only a Paper Moon and the very first beat began with Blakey striking his crash/ride on the edge and then continuing with the classic jazz ding-a-ding ride pattern. (Sorry, I'm not technically competent enough to explain this in proper music terms)
The recording (on a BlueNote best of collection) seemed too smooth for it to be live, but I never found a studio album that had this version on it. Strange? And I've got a ton of Blakey albums. Does anyone know which album this particular version might be on?
I'm slightly disappointed that this thread only has 40 something posts. But then again, it's not surprising. Blakey wasn't just a drummer but a band leader that provided the structure and basis for some of the most amazing music. Like I said about another drummer (Brian Blade), you just can't rationalise what he did. Words are not enough.
With Blakey, it's arguably all the more difficult to explain because his technique and style seems, dare I say, quite basic compared to the complexity and technique so many drummers show. And still, the swing and groove he created with only a few simple strokes was out of this world. I suppose you have to feel it to believe it.
People ask what came before the big bang, I reckon it was Art Blakey!