Originally Posted by Superlow
I disagree, I think his work outside of the Jazz messengers is very subtle. Pick up Soul Station by Hank Mobley and Something Else by Cannoball Adderley, very tasteful playing on that. Also His self titled record on Impulse is wonderful, better than a lot of records on The Blue Note lable.
Soul Station is a great recording! I used to play to that all the time. Has one of the great Art Blakey solos on it. I think Art definitely had the capacity for subtlety, but really feel we didn't get to hear it a lot. As much as I like Art's playing, we tend to keep hearing the same motives in every solo with only a few alterations. It seems to me that it was the energy and attitude that made all the difference.
I really liked his groups. I don't think we really understand what it meant to be an African American band leader sustaining such immensely talented groups for so many years. I read that when Art played with Dizzy Gillespie, he was attacked by police in Georgia and had to have a metal plate put in his head. That's why versions of "Manteca" start out with "I'll never go back to Georgia."
I also read that Chick Webb gave Art a pile of crap about coating his drumsticks with fluorescent paint and turning off the lights to do a drum solo when he couldn't even play a decent roll, so Art would come to all of Webb's gigs so he could get lesson in between sets.