Blew notes
Jazziversaries October 11th

Art Blakey (drums) - 1919 - 1990 :: known later as Abdullah Ibn Buhaina, was a Grammy Award-winning jazz drummer and bandleader.

Along with Kenny Clarke and Max Roach, he was one of the inventors of the modern bebop style of drumming. He is known as a powerful musician and a vital groover; his brand of bluesy, funky hard bop was and continues to be profoundly influential on mainstream jazz. For more than 30 years his band, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, included many young musicians who went on to become prominent names in jazz. The band’s legacy is thus not only known for the music it produced, but as a proving ground for several generations of jazz musicians; Blakey’s groups are matched only by those of Miles Davis in this regard.

In 1947 Blakey organized the Seventeen Messengers, a rehearsal band, and recorded with an octet called the Jazz Messengers. The use of the Messengers tag stuck with the group co-led at first by both Blakey and pianist Horace Silver, though the name was not used on the earliest of their recordings. Blakey and Silver recorded together on several occasions, including live at Birdland with trumpeter Clifford Brown and alto-saxophonist Lou Donaldson in 1954 for Blue Note, although they formed a regular cooperative group in 1953 with Hank Mobley and Kenny Dorham.

The “Jazz Messengers” name was first used for this group on a 1954 recording nominally led by Silver, with Blakey, Mobley, Dorham and Doug Watkins — the same quintet would record The Jazz Messengers at the Cafe Bohemia the following year, still functioning as a collective. Donald Byrd replaced Dorham, and the group recorded an album called simply The Jazz Messengers for Columbia Records in 1956.

Blakey took over the group name when Silver left after the band’s first year (taking Mobley, Byrd and Watkins with him to form a new quintet with a variety of drummers), and the band was known as “Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers” from then onwards. It was the archetypal hard-bop group of the 1950s, playing a driving, aggressive extension of bop with pronounced blues roots.

Towards the end of the 1950s, the saxophonists Johnny Griffin and Benny Golson were in turn briefly members of the group. Golson, as music director, wrote several tunes which became jazz standards as part of the band book such as “I Remember Clifford”, “Blues March”, “Along Came Betty” and “Are You Real”.

From 1959 to 1961 the group featured Wayne Shorter on tenor saxophone, Jymie Merritt, Lee Morgan, and Bobby Timmons.The second line-up (1961–64) was a sextet that added trombonist Curtis Fuller and replaced Morgan and Timmons with Freddie Hubbard and Cedar Walton, respectively.Shorter was now the musical director of the group, and many of his original compositions such as “Lester Left Town” remained repertoire staples later on. (Other players over the years made permanent marks on Blakey’s repertoire — Timmons, composer of “Dat Dere” and “Moanin’”, and later, Bobby Watson.) Shorter’s more experimental inclinations pushed the band at the time into an engagement with the 1960s “New Thing”, as it was called: the influence of Coltrane’s contemporary records on Impulse! is evident on Free For All (1964).

Through this period Blakey also recorded as a sideman with many other musicians: Jimmy Smith, Herbie Nichols, Cannonball Adderley, Grant Green, and Jazz Messengers graduates Lee Morgan and Hank Mobley, amongst many others. However, after the mid-1960s he mostly concentrated on his own work as a leader.

Blakey also made a world tour in 1971–72 with the Giants of Jazz (with Dizzy Gillespie, Kai Winding, Sonny Stitt, Thelonious Monk and Al McKibbon).

Blakey was inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame (in 1982), the Grammy Hall of Fame (in 2001), and was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.

Billy Higgins (drums) - 1936-2001 :: was a jazz drummer. He played mainly free jazz and hard bop. Higgins played on Ornette Coleman’s first records, beginning in 1958. He then freelanced extensively with hard bop and other post-bop players, including Donald Byrd, Dexter Gordon, Joe Henderson, Milt Jackson, Jackie McLean, Pat Metheny, Hank Mobley, Thelonious Monk, Lee Morgan, David Murray, Art Pepper, Sonny Rollins, Mal Waldron, and Cedar Walton.

He was one of the house drummers for Blue Note Records and played on dozens of Blue Note albums of the 1960s.Throughout his career he has played on over 700 recordings. He appeared as a jazz drummer in the 2001 movie Southlander.

In 1989, Higgins cofounded a cultural center, The World Stage, in Los Angeles to encourage and promote younger jazz musicians. The center provides workshops in performance and writing, as well as concerts and recordings.

Brian Jackson (piano) - 1952 :: Born day greetings to Brian Jackson, keyboardist, flautist, singer, composer, and producer. He is best known for his collaborations with Gil Scott-Heron in the 1970s. The sound of Jackson’s Rhodes electric piano and flute accompaniments featured prominently in many of their compositions, most notably on “The Bottle” and “Rivers of My Fathers” from their first official collaboration Winter in America.

The Brooklyn-born Jackson met Scott-Heron while the two were attending Lincoln University (Pennsylvania).They began a decade-long writing, producing, and recording partnership. Jackson composed most of the music that he and Scott-Heron together performed and recorded. In 1973, the two released their first album together, Pieces of a Man, with Ron Carter on bass. Other notable albums include Free Will (1972) and Winter in America (1974), which was the first to have Jackson receive co-billing, and which was later described by Barney Hoskyns in UNCUT as “a masterwork of ghetto melancholia and stark political gravitas”. His biggest hit was with Scott-Heron, 1974’s “The Bottle”. By 1979, they had recorded ten albums, with other unreleased material surfacing on subsequent Scott-Heron releases following their 1980 split.

Jackson continued to be active in the 1980s and 1990s, working with Earth, Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder, Will Downing and Gwen Guthrie.Jackson’s first solo album, "Gotta Play" (released October 2000), included guest performances by Roy Ayers and Scott-Heron. Jackson’s other credits include work with Roy Ayers, Kool and the Gang, Janis Siegel (of Manhattan Transfer), Will Downing, Gwen Guthrie and with Pete Miser of (Radio Free Brooklyn) on his solo album, "Camouflage is Relative".

Most recently Brian has been collaborating with Masauko (of the South African duo, Blk Sonshine) and with Ladybug Mecca (of Digable Planets) on her CD, "Trip the Light Fantastic".

Curtis Amy (saxophone) - 1929-2002 :: was an American West Coast jazz musician known for his work on tenor saxophone. He also explored many mediums, including soul jazz and hard bop.

He learned how to play clarinet before joining the Army, and during his time in service, picked up the tenor saxophone. After his discharge, he attended and graduated from Kentucky State College. He worked as an educator in Tennessee while playing in midwestern jazz clubs. In the mid-1950s he relocated to Los Angeles and signed with Pacific Jazz Records, often playing with organist Paul Bryant. In the mid-60s he spent three years as musical director of Ray Charles’ orchestra, together with his wife, Merry Clayton and Steve Huffsteter.

As well as leading his own bands and recording albums under his own name, Amy also did session work and played the solos on several recordings, including The Doors song “Touch Me”, Carole King’s Tapestry, and Lou Rawls’ first albums, Black and Blue and Tobacco Road, coinciding with Dexter Gordon in the Onzy Matthews big band, as well as working with Marvin Gaye, Tammy Terrell and Smokey Robinson.

Douglas Lawrence (sax, tenor) - 1956 :: Many happy returns to saxophonist Doug Lawrence. Lawrence spent over 20 years in New York City, during which time he worked with such artists as Tony Bennett, Aretha Franklin, Roy Eldridge, and many others. He has also been a featured performer at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and the Village Vanguard. Lawrence is currently the featured tenor soloist with the Count Basie Orchestra, (a chair once held by such musicians as Lester Young and Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis). Doug also works with the legendary drummer Jimmy Cobb.

Fred Hopkins (Bass) - 1947 -1999 :: was a Chicago double bassist who played a major role in the development of the avant-garde jazz movement. He was a member of the avant garde jazz trio Air (with Henry Threadgill and Steve McCall) and David Murray's Low Class Conspiracy; he frequently worked with the cellist Diedre Murray. Hopkins played with a wide variety of musicians including Muhal Richard Abrams, Don Pullen, Hamiet Bluiett, Andrew Cyrille, Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre, Sunny Murray, Kahil El'Zabar, Malachi Thompson, McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, David Murray, Anthony Braxton and Marion Brown.

Lester Bowie (trumpet) - 1941-1999 :: was a jazz trumpet player and composer. He was a member of the AACM, and cofounded the Art Ensemble of Chicago.

He began his career playing  with blues musicians such as Little Milton and Albert King, and rhythm and blues stars such as Solomon Burke, Joe Tex, and Rufus Thomas. In 1965, he became Fontella Bass’s musical director and husband.He was a co-founder of Black Artists Group (BAG) in St Louis.

In 1966, he moved to Chicago, where he worked as a studio musician, and met Muhal Richard Abrams and Roscoe Mitchell and became a member of the AACM. In 1968, he founded the Art Ensemble of Chicagowith Mitchell, Joseph Jarman, and Malachi Favors. He remained a member of this group for the rest of his life, and was also a member of Jack DeJohnette’s New Directions quartet. He lived and worked in Jamaica and Africa, and played and recorded with Fela Kuti.[3] Bowie’s onstage appearance, in a white lab coat, with his goatee waxed into two points, was an important part of the Art Ensemble’s stage show.

In 1984, he formed Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy, a brass nonet in which Bowie demonstrated jazz’s links to other forms of popular music, a decidedly more populist approach than that of the Art Ensemble. With this group he recorded songs made popular by Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Marilyn Manson, and the Spice Girls, along with more “serious” material. His New York Organ Ensemble featured James Carter and Amina Claudine Myers.

Although seen as part of the avant-garde, Bowie embraced techniques from the whole history of jazz trumpet, filling his music with humorous smears, blats, growls, half-valve effects, and so on. His affinity for reggae and ska is exemplified by his composition “Ska Reggae Hi-Bop”, which he performed with the Skatalites on their 1994 “Hi-Bop Ska”, and also with James Carter on “Conversin’ With The Elders”.

Also 1994, Bowie appeared on the Red Hot Organization’s compilation album, Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool. The album, meant to raise awareness and funds in support of the AIDS epidemic in relation to the African American community, was heralded as “Album of the Year” by Time.

Tony Kinsey (drums) - 1927 :: Many happy returns to drummer Tony Kinsey. 

Kinsey held jobs on trans-Atlantic ships while young, studying while at port with Bill West in New York City and with local musician Tommy Webster in Birmingham. He had a close association with Ronnie Ball early in his life; the two even had a double wedding together. Kinsey led his own ensemble at the Flamingo Club in London through the 1950s, and recorded on more than 80 sessions between 1950 and 1977, including with Tubby Hayes, Bill Le Sage, Ronnie Scott, Johnny Dankworth, Joe Harriott, Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, Ben Webster, Clark Terry, Harry Edison, Buddy DeFranco, Billie Holiday, Oscar Peterson, and Sarah Vaughan. He performed at European jazz festivals both as a drummer and as a poet. He did some work as a session musician in the 1950s and 1960s, playing on records by Eddie Calvert, Cliff Richard, and Ronnie Aldrich.

Kinsey also branched into composition; a string quartet composition of his is used in the short film On the Bridge, and he wrote arrangements for big bands in addition to music for over 100 commercials. Later in his life he wrote music for a musical based on the life of George Eliot.

Well a hard bop heavy jazz day today Jazzlings. No excuses but you can never have too much of the Messengers and well, any opportunity to get in a bit of Henry Threadgill !

So if today is your birthday we wish you a hard grooving day and a swingtastic year ahead!

As ever thanks go to AAJ & JBC for the guidance

Respect to the YouTube massive for the uploads

Warm handshakes to the blog followers thanks people for your support

and thanks to You for passin’ thru’

Walk Tall,

Speak Low,

Go placidly