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Art Blakey

(1919 – 1990)

Art Blakey, (Abdullah Ibn Buhaina), is an American drummer and bandleader noted for his extraordinary energetic drum solos and lifelong commitment to developing young musicians though his band the Jazz Messengers.

Blakey taught himself to play the piano while he was a teenager and performed on piano (and later drums) in jazz clubs in the evenings while working in the steel mills by day. Beginning in 1939, as a drummer, he performed with several bands, most notably (1944–47) with that of Billy Eckstine. 

 When Eckstine’s band broke up, Blakey traveled to Africa, a trip that led to his conversion to Islam. Upon his return to the United States he was hired to play drums on several Blue Note Records recordings with jazz pianist Thelonious Monk. With Horace Silver, Blakey founded the Jazz Messengers (1954), toured Europe, and recorded (1955–61) a brilliant string of records for the Blue Note label. By encouraging young musicians to become members of the Jazz Messengers, Blakey gave them valuable experience as jazz performers; over the years the ensemble included such notable jazzmen as Clifford Brown, Donald Byrd, Lee Morgan, Johnny Griffin, Jackie McLean,  Wayne Shorter, Wynton Marsalis, Chick Corea, McCoy Tyner and Mulgrew Miller.

Art Blakey played the Cork Jazz Festival in 1980. His name  is synonymous with musicianship and cultural  development in jazz.

He has been sampled by A Tribe Called Quest among many others.

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