This week William Price King shares the music of American Jazz drummer and bandleader Art Blakey
Arthur Blakey (October 11, 1919 – October 16, 1990) was an American jazz drummer and bandleader. He was briefly known as Abdullah Ibn Buhaina after he converted to Islam for a short time in the late 1940s.
Blakey made a name for himself in the 1940s in the big bands of Fletcher Henderson and Billy Eckstine. He then worked with bebop musicians Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, and Dizzy Gillespie. In the mid-1950s, Horace Silver and Blakey formed the Jazz Messengers, a group that the drummer was associated with for the next 35 years. The group was formed as a collective of contemporaries, but over the years the band became known as an incubator for young talent, including Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, Lee Morgan, Benny Golson, Kenny Dorham, Hank Mobley, Donald Byrd, Jackie McLean, Johnny Griffin, Curtis Fuller, Chuck Mangione, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, Cedar Walton, Woody Shaw, Terence Blanchard, and Wynton Marsalis. The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz calls the Jazz Messengers “the archetypal hard bop group of the late 50s”.
Blakey was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame (in 1981), the Grammy Hall of Fame (in 1998 and 2001), and was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. He was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1991. More information at Wikipedia
Time to hear some of Art Blakey’s music
“Moanin’”, penned by Bobby Timmons, was recorded in1958 at the Van Gelder Studio in Hackensack, N.J. for the Blue Note label and released in 1959 with Art Blakey on drums, Lee Morgan on trumpet, Benny Golson on tenor saxophone, Bobby Timmons on piano, and Jymie Merritt on bass. The title track is indicative of the soul jazz style of the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. The album as a whole offers the listener the musicianship of refined jazz with its roots in the soul of the blues. The song, Moanin’, makes use of the call-and-response technique between the keyboards and the horns with a rhythmically driving bass line and a star performance by Lee Morgan on trumpet, which has become one of the greatest solos in trumpet history.
“Mosiac” was released on the Blue Note Records label in 1961 with heavyweights Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, Curtis Fuller, Cedar Walton, Jymie Merritt and, of course, Art Blakey. All of the tracks were written by members of the band and were imaginatively composed, lending each piece to masterful soloing. Blakey leads the ensemble throughout this joyful record and keeps it well anchored – rhythm is everything. This was the Jazz Messengers’ first recording as a sextet and the music, true to the spirit of hard bop, is engaging, elegant, challenging, and uplifting.
“Three Blind Mice” was initially released in1962 on the United Artists Jazz label, featuring live material recorded in 1962 at the Club Renaissance in Hollywood. Blue Note Records later reissued the record in two volumes, adding two tracks recorded in 1961 at The Village Gate. The album features Art Blakey, Freddie Hubbard, Curtis Fuller, Wayne Shorter, Cedar Walton, and Jymie Merritt. The title track, « Three Blind Mice, » is the perfect example of Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers’ classy work, performed in an improvised, off-minor, modal key.
“Caravan”, written by Duke Ellington and Juan Tizol, was first performed by Ellington in 1936. Art Blakey recorded his version of this jazz standard in 1962 featuring stellar artists such as Wayne Shorter, Reggie Workman, and Freddie Hubbard in a style which is slick and refined. Blakey pushes the rhythm section forward with his light touch, always careful not to overwhelm the other musicians while at the same time challenging them in a fluent set of tight, creative, and exciting improvisations. This is hard bop at its best.
William Price King is an American jazz singer, crooner, and composer.
His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour.
While touring Europe he met a lovely French lady, Jeanne Maïstre, who, a year later became his wife. King left the group ‘Au Naturel’ and settled in the south of France where he started a new life on the French Riviera, opening his own music school – the “Price King Ecole Internationale de Chant.” He has had the pleasure over the years of seeing many of his students excel as singers on a professional level, and some going on to become national celebrities. He continues to coach young singers today, in his spare time.
His debut jazz album was entitled “Home,” and was a collection of contemporary compositions he composed, with lyrics written by his wife Jeanne King. His second album was a Duo (Voice and Guitar) with Eric Sempé on the guitar. This album included original songs as well as well known standards from contemporary jazz and pop artists. The “King-Sempé” duo toured France and thrilled audiences for more than three years before going their separate ways. King has formed a new duo with French/Greek guitarist Manolis, and is now exploring new ideas, in a smooth jazz/soul/folk direction.
In addition to singing and composing, King has been collaborating with author Sally Cronin over the past few years on her blog “Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life,” with the series “A Man And His Music – Jazz, Contemporary, Classical, and Legends” and now, the “William Price King Music Column.” Working with author Sally Cronin has been an exhilarating experience in many ways and has brought a new dimension to King’s creative life. King has also created a micro blog, “Improvisation,” which features and introduces mostly jazz artists from across the jazz spectrum who have made considerable contributions in the world of jazz; and also artwork from painters who have made their mark in the world of art. This micro blog can be found on Tumblr.
His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Tormé. King has a distinctive wide-ranging voice which displays a remarkable technical facility and emotional depth.
My thanks to William for the amazing artists he has brought to the blog and thank you for dropping in today. As always your feedback is very welcome.