Birthday Blakey on the beat!

The man whose polyrhythmic style helped to change the course of Jazz drumming, Art Blakey is recognized as one of the world’s greatest percussionists. With a career that spanned nearly sixty years, Blakey was an essential part of the flow of Jazz through the numerous stylistic changes that the genre underwent over those decades. Watching a Blakey drum solo is witnessing poetry in motion. His ability to maintain independent rhythm in each limb, while looking entirely at ease, is second to none.

A Night In Tunisia, at 43 minutes in, is a particularly impressive part of this 1958 set.

Cool footage featuring Sun Ra Arkestra’s, John Gilmore, on tenor sax.

Wayne Shorter takes the tenor here.

ending on a solo note


Happy birthday, Billy Higgins

Drummer Billy Higgins has an exhaustive resume, providing rhythm for everyone from John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, Donald Byrd, Grant Green, Herbie Hancock, Eddie Harris, Jackie McLean, Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan, Cecil Taylor, Archie Shepp, Sandy Bull, Don Cherry, and perhaps most notably, with Ornette Coleman. That barely scratches the surface of Higgins career collaborations. Through the sixties, it’s almost easier to find a Jazz record on which he’s not playing.

Love the quartet lineup on this session: Ornette, James Blood Ulmer, Sirone and Billy. I’m fascinated with the Coleman/Ulmer recordings.

Here’s another great quartet,from a decade earlier: Sonny Rollins, Don Cherry, Henry Grimes and Billy

Happy birthday, Chico Hamilton

Man, I love how Chico grooves!

Happy birthday, Sunny Murray

One of the foremost proponents of Free Jazz, Sunny Murray has manned the kit longside the legends of the genre, including Albert Ayler. Cecil Taylor, Sonny Sharrock, Archie Shepp and Arthur Doyle, to name a  few. Today, Murray continues to reinvent the role of the drummer fifty years after his recorded debut.

Remember the time John Coltrane Quartet drummer, Elvin Jones, played a gunslinging killer, who stole the drum throne from the James Gang’s, Jim Fox ?

From 1971’s Psychedelic Western, Zachariah, starring Don Johnson.

Here’s a half hour set from the classic Coltrane Quartet, displaying Elvin’s synchronicity with that most perfect of Jazz quartets.

A short documentary, more of a demo really, on Elvin.

A pair from this Elvin led trio featuring fellow Coltrane Quartet alum, bassist Jimmy Garrison, and sax man Joe Farrell, who would later be known for a series of albums on CTI.

With Dave Liebman, Steve Grossman and Gene Perla, on the French show, Jazz Session, 1973

I know that this is the first song on the previously posted JCQ set, but I love this version and how the band synchs up, particularly the interplay between Jones and Tyner. Outstanding third eye visionary playing.

Happy birthday, Jaki Liebezeit

There are two men who created the famous metronomic pulse, which earned the name “motorik”, that was the backbeat of Krautrock: Neu’s, Klaus Dinger, and Can’s, Jaki Liebezeit. Liebezeit was famously referred to as “half man, half machine” for his incessant and mechanically precise, yet soulful and intuitive drumming, which allowed Can to go into uncharted territories, while style having that essential rhythmic center. One of my favorite drummers.

Happy birthday, Max Roach

One of the world’s greatest drummers, Max Roach has played with a veritable who’s who of Jazz legends. Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Billy Eckstine, Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins, Clifford Brown and Eric Dolphy have all collaborated with the master percussionist, in both their own and Roach led ensembles.

Watch as Roach masterfully attacks a single piece of the drum kit

The Max Roach 5tet, with Abbey Lincoln performing songs from Roach’s protest classic, We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite, with lyrics by Oscar Brown Jr.!

and more…

Four masters in one gig

The greatest trio ever?