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Art Blakey
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    (October 11, 1919-October 16, 1990)
    Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    Jazz drummer
    Played with Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie
    Formed the Jazz Messengers (1954)
    Recorded the albums ‘A Night at Birdland, Vols. 1-3’ (1954), ‘The Jazz Messengers’ (1956), ‘Hard Bop’ (1957), ‘Ritual’ (1957), ‘A Night in Tunisia’ (1957), ‘Holiday for Skins, Vols. 1 and 2’ (1959), ‘Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers’ (1960), ‘Impulse!!!! Art Blakey!!!! Jazz Messengers!!!!’ (1961), ‘The Freedom Rider’ (1962), ‘Caravan’ (1963), ‘A Jazz Message’ (1964), ‘Child’s Dance’ (1972), ‘In Walked Sonny’ (1975), ‘Gypsy Folk Tales’ (1977), ‘Album of the Year’ (1981), ‘New York Scene’ (1984) and ‘One for All’ (1990)
    Won the Grammy for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance by a Group (1984) and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (2005)
    He told many different stories about his early years, making it difficult to know the truth. (For example: Did he really switch from piano to drums when a gangster with a gun ordered him to surrender his position to Errol Garner?)
    He changed his name to Abdullah Ibn Buhaina after converting to Islam.
    Despite converting to Islam, he continued to drink heavily.
    He abused heroin.
    He led the first American jazz band to tour Japan (1960).
    He, Max Roach and Kenny Clarke were considered the founders of the hard bop style of drumming.
    He served as a mentor to many young musicians who passed through the ranks of the Jazz Messengers, including Donald Byrd, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Chuck Mangione, and Wynton and Branford Marsalis.
    In the 70s, when fusion was the ‘in’ jazz style, Miles Davis defended him against claims that his music was out of date: ‘If Art Blakey is old fashioned, I’m white.’
    He was inducted into the Newport Jazz Festival Hall of Fame (1976), the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame (1981) and the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame (1991).

Credit: C. Fishel

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