Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers: A Music Artist Profile

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Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers were one of the most influential and important jazz groups of their time. Check out this blog post to learn more about their music and impact on the jazz world.


Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers was a jazz band formed by Art Blakey in the 1950s. The band was originally composed of hard bop musicians, but later members included younger musicians who played in a more post-bop and modal jazz style. The band recorded for several different labels over the years, including Blue Note, Columbia, and Verve. They also toured extensively throughout the United States and Europe. The Jazz Messengers were dissolved after Blakey’s death in 1990.

Art Blakey’s Musical Style

Art Blakey was a highly influential jazz drummer and bandleader who was known for his hard-hitting, explosive style. He was a pioneer of the hard bop subgenre and a co-founder of the legendary Jazz Messengers. Blakey’s music was characterized by its intense, driving rhythms and blues-influenced melodies. He was a master of the Jazz shuffle, a rhythmic technique that was characterized by its heavy backbeat and syncopated accents.

Hard Bop

If you’re a fan of live jazz music, then chances are you’ve heard of Art Blakey. As the founder and bandleader of The Jazz Messengers, Blakey was one of the most influential figures in the development of hard bop – a style of jazz characterized by Afro-Cuban rhythms, bluesy melodies, and soulful improvisations.

Born in Pittsburgh in 1919, Blakey began his musical career playing drums in various big bands throughout the 1930s and 1940s. In 1955, he formed The Jazz Messengers – a training ground for some of the most talented young jazz musicians of the day, including Horace Silver, Wynton Marsalis, and Branford Marsalis.

Over the next four decades, The Jazz Messengers would release over two dozen albums and tour extensively throughout America and Europe. Although Blakey passed away in 1990, his legacy continues to live on through his music – which remains as fresh and relevant today as it was during the height of the hard bop era.

Modal jazz is a type of jazz that was developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The style is characterized by extended improvisations based on scales or modes rather than chords. Modal jazz is considered to be a reaction to the complex harmonic structures of bebop and hard bop.

Art Blakey was one of the most important figures in the development of modal jazz. His album “Moanin'” (1958) is considered to be one of the first and most important examples of modal jazz. Blakey’s approach to modal jazz was influenced by Miles Davis, who had recorded the album “Kind of Blue” (1959) a year earlier. Blakey’s use of modes helped to create a more flexible and open-ended approach to improvisation, which was one of the hallmark features of modal jazz.

Other important figures in the development of modal jazz include John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Wayne Shorter, and Herbie Hancock.

Art Blakey’s Discography

Art Blakey was an American jazz drummer and bandleader who was an influential figure in the development of hard bop. Throughout his career, Blakey recorded and performed with many of the jazz genre’s most famous musicians. His discography as a leader includes more than fifty albums.

A Night at Birdland

Art Blakey’s “A Night at Birdland” is a classic live album that was recorded over the course of two nights in March of 1951. The album features Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, which at the time consisted of trumpet player Clifford Brown, tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, alto saxophonist Horace Silver, and bassist Curly Russell. pianist Horace Silver does not appear on the album due to contractual obligations with another label.

The album captures the energy and excitement of a live jazz performance, and features some of Blakey’s most well-known compositions, including “The Birth of the Messengers” and “A Night in Tunisia”. “A Night at Birdland” is considered to be one of the most important live jazz albums ever recorded, and is essential listening for any fan of Blakey or the Jazz Messengers.


Art Blakey’s Moanin’ is one of the most popular and well-known jazz recordings of all time. The title track, written by pianist Bobby Timmons, has become a jazz standard, and is routinely performed by groups all over the world. Recorded in October of 1958, Moanin’ features the classic Jazz Messengers lineup of Blakey on drums, Lee Morgan on trumpet, Benny Golson on tenor saxophone, Curtis Fuller on trombone, and Timmons on piano. This quintet would remain together for less than a year, but their recorded output during that time would have a profound impact on the history of jazz.

The Big Beat

Few individuals have had as profound and long lasting an impact on jazz music as Art Blakey. A supremely gifted drummer and bandleader, Blakey was one of the primary architects of the hard bop style that emerged in the mid-1950s, and he remained a vital force in the music for more than four decades. In the process, he helped to launch the careers of a countless number of young jazz musicians, many of whom went on to become giants in their own right. During his lengthy tenure with Blue Note Records, Blakey recorded some of the most distinctive and influential albums in the label’s history.

Art Blakey’s Legacy

Art Blakey was not only a great drummer, but also a bandleader and composer who was an influential figure in the development of Hard Bop. He is best known for his work with The Jazz Messengers, a group he co-founded in 1955. The Jazz Messengers were known for their hard-driving, inventive style and Blakey’s signature approach to the drums.

Influence on Hard Bop

Art Blakey’s influence on Hard Bop was significant. He was one of the first drummer/leaders in jazz, and he was a major innovator in the way that he approached the role of the drums in a jazz ensemble. His style of drumming was much more aggressive than what had been heard previously, and he often times played with a high level of energy. This was something that was new to the world of jazz, and it had a profound effect on the way that hard bop developed.

Influence on Modal Jazz

Art Blakey’s influence on modal jazz cannot be understated. His work with The Jazz Messengers in the 1950s and 1960s helped to popularize the use of modal jazz compositional techniques, which emphasize improvisation over strict melodic structure. This approach to jazz composition would go on to be adopted by some of the genre’s most influential artists, including Miles Davis and John Coltrane.

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