"Art was one of the great bandleaders of all time. The scene really misses him, the music really misses Art. He was so rhythmically powerful that it didn't matter who came in the band, Art's sound gave the band its sound."
Art Blakey is a national treasure. In his fifty years of performing, he has done more to promote the music that is America's indigenous art form than any other single individual. The Messengers have been, and continue to be, the living university of jazz. Not only does the master require the highest virtuosity and technical skill, but also an unabashed demonstration of the joy inherent in the performance of his music.
Each Messenger delivers the message with style and a show of respect for the listener. The dignity of the music is manifest in ways both direct and subtle--from one of Art's "sermons" to the manner of dress and deportment of his sidemen.
But for all its technique and import, this is a music of the people, a visceral experience that evokes spontaneous response from audience and performer alike.
There is no need of artifice here, no sweetening, no overdubs; rather, this is pure acoustic music for strings, brass, woodwinds and percussion, the beauty and vitality of which are it's own justification.
With credit to Voltaire, if Art Blakey didn't exist we would have had to invent him. And when the history of American music is ultimately compiled, he need not worry about garnering a mention. He's writing the book.
--FRANK DORRITIE, from the liner notes,
Straight Ahead, Concord.
A selected discography of Art Blakey albums.
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