by Steve Schwartz and Michael Fitzgerald
May 1996-July 6, 2008
Dates refer to first documented existence of particular band, usually at a recording session, but occasionally at a performing engagement.
Special editions of the Jazz Messengers, whether all-star alumni groupings or studio-only bands are marked with an *. Recording sessions or performances unrelated to the Jazz Messengers are listed in italics.
Here are some PR-type biographies of several musicians who played with Art Blakey
Comments, questions, feedback via e-mail to mike at jazzdiscography.com
Thanks to those who helped
Art Blakey was born in Pittsburgh, PA on October 11, 1919.
"I've had bands since I was 15 years old. I was playing piano with the best band in Pittsburgh - 18 pieces - and the best gig, too. We sounded like Count Basie, Fletcher Henderson, we played Benny Goodman and Benny Carter things." - Art Blakey, quoted by John Litweiler in Down Beat, March 25, 1976, p.16.
1939: John Michel-t; Specs Thomas "Horse-collar"-as; Musa Kaleem (Orlando Wright)-ts; Walter "Woogie" Harris-tb; Art Blakey-p; William McMahon-b; Albert "Skippy" Saunders-d
1941: went to New York (as a pianist) with singer Dorothy Matthews before returning to Pittsburgh to form a band that was appropriated by Mary Lou Williams after she left Andy Kirk's band. [Jazz Hot 1/59]
"He [Monk] was responsible for me when I moved from Pittsburgh to New York. He used to take me and Bud Powell around to all the clubs to play. If the musicians didn't want us to sit in, he'd run them off the stage, sit down, and play with me. At that time jobs were so few, and musicians had cliques. Times were tight, things were changing, but Monk was just outstanding in himself. He's a great person." - Art Blakey, quoted by John Litweiler in Down Beat, March 25, 1976, p.15.
[This group included: Marion Hazel-t; Norris Turney-as; Musa Kaleem (Orlando Wright)-ts; Mary Lou Williams-p; Edgar Willis-b - Jazz Hot 1/59]
"Art Blakey, one of the original members of the Jimmy Murray orchestra before Henderson took it over, had been with Mary Lou Williams at Kelly's Stables in New York, into November 1942 at least." - Walter Allen, Hendersonia.
"[Mary Lou] Williams (whose time was impeccable) said they felt that Blakey just didn't have his rhythm down so she planted him right between she and [Shorty] Baker until he got it! Drums was Baker's first choice of instruments." - Annie Kuebler
"The music went from four to twelve at the Kentucky Club [in Kansas City, MO]. I met Ben Webster, Don Byas there. We played in and out of Kansas City for about a year. Then the drummer from the Fletcher Henderson band came down and said, 'I like the way you play, we'd like to have you in the band.' This was Art Blakey. He invited Harold Clark, the tenor player, and myself to come down and play. Harold and I would say, 'Well, yeah, maybe it would be a chance for us to go to New York.' And Blakey, being like a quick talker, said, 'Yeah, I'm doing managing for the band and I can get you in the band.' So we went down to hear this concert they played in this concert house there (Kansas City). So Harold Clark said, 'Man, that's the saddest drummer in the whole world.' Art Blakey was a terrible drummer at that time, he didn't have no technique, he'd lose time (laughter), we had never heard him. We said, 'No, man, not with that drummer, 'cause he's terrible.' So we forgot that." - Idrees Sulieman, Cadence, September 1979, p.4.
"Oh, Idrees is crazy. That's the only reason I had the job, the only reason I had the job. I don't think he heard me that much. What I was playing was kind of different from the drummer that his band was using, maybe he just couldn't understand it. I just know that's not true." - Art Blakey, Cadence, July 1981.
[According to Allen, Blakey and Marion Hazel left the band while in Washington, DC, which is in contradiction to Jazz Hot 1/59 which says that Blakey was in Georgia with the band when he was beaten by a policeman and spent several weeks in the hospital.]
[Jazz Hot 1/59 reports Blakey worked at the Tic Toc Ballroom in Boston for approximately a year with a group including: Marion Hazel-t; Leon Taylor-as; Walter Harris-tb; Freddie Speaker-p; Jimmy Schenck, Sr.-b. Clearly this could not have been anywhere near a year.]
Spring 1944: Marion Hazel-trumpet; Lucius Allen-sax; Walter Harris-tb;
"He was leading his own band in Boston in 1944, when a call came from Billy Eckstine that led to what Blakey calls the greatest musical experience of his life, three years with Eckstine's big band." - Zan Stewart, Down Beat, July 1985, p.22.
"I lived in Boston during the war. Yeah, I had a band there. I had a big band up there. I got there and had a band, you know. Because there was nothing to do and there was a lot of musicians around there and they don't know, they don't know how to talk to people. Musicians are not good businessmen and I know - I'm not a good businessman either, but I can bullshit. I know how to talk and get something done. To get things organized, get it going. So that's what happened and I stayed there, and that's where I met Roy Haynes. And that's the world's most underrated drummer, that man. I met him, and Al Dawson, these kids, you know. And that's what happened up there. And I joined B from there, and we went on the road from there." - Art Blakey, Jazz Magazine, Winter 1979, pp.49-50.
"So I went up to Boston. Then Art Blakey was in town, but everybody in Boston said, "Man, don't let this cat sit in 'cause the tempo will start off (fast) and after you play a while it would (be slow). He was the only drummer I knew used to lose time. So anytime he would come in, cats would turn their heads a different way. So one day we were standing on the corner of Massachusetts and Columbus Avenues in Boston and Art came up and said, "Hey man, I got a chance to go with the Billy Eckstine band." We said, "What!!?" We said, "How's he going to take that job?" They say the first time was so terrible that Dizzy Gillespie said, "Look man, drummer downstairs gonna show you how to play drums," and Dizzy took him down and showed him how to drop the bomb and what to do and they say from that night on he's been like he is now. Dizzy Gillespie taught him how to play drums.
"I couldn't believe it man, the band came through and I have never been so shocked in my life. He had the audience, he had the band, and I couldn't believe he was the same drummer. Dizzy knew how to explain things so you learn it in one time. If Billy had asked me then to join the band I would have immediately because of Art Blakey, and when he was with Fletcher Henderson I wouldn't take the job because he was so bad." - Idrees Sulieman, Cadence, September 1979, p.6.
"But when I was in Boston, Billy (Eckstine) sent for me and I took my trombone player (Marion Hazel) and trumpeter (Walter Harris) and he hired both of them. Billy heard about me from musicians in the band." - Art Blakey, Cadence, July 1981, p.10. [The two names have been reversed. Hazel played trumpet and Harris played trombone.]
[Allen says Blakey joined Eckstine in St. Louis, MO in mid 1944.]
"It [the Eckstine band] had a tremendous rhythm section: Art Blakey, Tommy Potter, and Richard Ellington on piano. It had excellent soloists, too, like Gene Ammons and Leo Parker. Those six months I was with Eckstine were a groove. Billy brought me in as trumpet soloist to replace Fats Navarro, who had replaced Diz. I was only 22, but already I was accepted on my merits. Billy was a great leader; he'd always let you go when you were having a great night." - Kenny Dorham, quoted by Gene Feehan in Down Beat, September 27, 1962, p.17
"On the way back to New York we went through Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and some other places, I forget now. When we got to Chicago, I went home to see my family and my new son for the first time. This was around Christmas, so I spent the holidays with my family. After that, the band stayed together through the first two months of 1947 before we broke up." - Miles Davis, Miles, p.97
"He is particularly keen to play dates on the African continent, preferably in Nigeria and throughout West Africa, where he spent some time in 1947. 'Of course, I'd get a tremendous kick out of taking the group to Africa,' he said smilingly. 'When I was there 10 years ago, I didn't play at all. Kind of like to make up for that now.'" - Art Blakey, quoted by John Tynan in Down Beat, October 17, 1957, p.15.
"I didn't go to Africa to study drums - somebody wrote that - I went to Africa because there wasn't anything else for me to do. I couldn't get any gigs, and I had to work my way over on a boat. I went over there to study religion and philosophy. I didn't bother with the drums, I wasn't after that. I went over there to see what I could do about religion. When I was growing up I had no choice, I was just thrown into a church and told this is what I was going to be. I didn't want to be their Christian. I didn't like it. You could study politics in this country, but I didn't have access to the religions of the world. That's why I went to Africa. When I got back people got the idea I went there to learn about music." - Art Blakey, quoted by Herb Nolan in Down Beat, November 1979, p.20.
"In 1947, after the Eckstine band broke up, we -- took a trip to Africa. I was supposed to stay there three months and I stayed two years because I wanted to live among the people and find out just how they lived and -- about the drums especially. We were in the interior of Nigeria and I met some people called the Ishan people who are very, very interesting people. They live sort of primitive. The drum is the most important instrument there: anything that happens that day that is good, they play about it that night. This particular thing caught my ear of the different rhythms. The first movement is about a hunter who had went out -- there was three of them. They were after one girl. She was a very pretty girl. They wanted her. And this particular one, he went out -- the guys would tease him a lot because he was the shortest one in the -- tribe. And he went out and he was the best hunter, so he ended up with the girl. And this time they started playing the drums and expressing to her that he had caught the most game and to prepare for the feast that night. And the second movement is a movement where there's a little girl, she wanted to go out and play, and her mother didn't want her to go out and play and it was an argument going on between the two and so the drummers would play. And the little brother comes up and he persuades the mother to let her go out. So that's a big deed that day for the little boy who persuaded his mother, so they played about it. And the last part of it, I have a little bit of -- American movements in there, the last bit of it is about the first time they had seen an automobile that day. And that's the reason I put in some American movements on the drums. And -- they played about it that day." - Art Blakey, transcription of "Art Blakey's Comments On 'Ritual'" from the 1957 Pacific Jazz album Ritual.
1947: Seventeen Messengers big band: Ray Copeland-t; Sahib Shihab (Edmund Gregory)-as; [unknown Brooklyn guy]-ts; Cecil Payne-bar; Haleen Rasheed (Howard Bowe)-tb; Thelonious Monk-p; Gary Mapp-b [from Gene Lees Interview of Sahib Shihab, Jazzletter, May 1985] [Both the instrumentation and personnel, however, sound like it would be the nine-piece group (with added congas) from around 1951. Further research needed.]
"That wasn't my idea. The cats put the band together and they come and got me and said, well, you be the leader. It wasn't my idea at all. But I loved it, and I'm trying to work towards that now." - Art Blakey, Jazz Magazine, Winter 1979, pp.45-46.
1947: Seventeen Messengers big band: Sonny Rollins, Sahib Shihab (Edmund Gregory)-as; Bud Powell-p; Ivan Rolle-b; Thelonious Monk-arr
1947: Seventeen Messengers big band: Sahib Shihab (Edmund Gregory)-as; Cecil Payne-bar; Bennie Harris-t; Kenny Drew-p;
[lasted only a few months, played gigs in NYC at Smalls' Paradise]
"I worked with the Messengers, I think it was in the '40s, we founded the Messengers, in fact it broke up because there was a vote in the band whether I would be the leader or Art Blakey. But Art said, 'Well, if I'm not the leader I'm not going to play' (laughter). It was a 17-piece band, Dizzy gave us a whole repertoire from his band, his whole book. And were copying like for weeks at night ten or fifteen of his best arrangements. We rehearsed for a whole month from nine in the morning to like six (PM). We made our appearance at Smalls' Paradise. Dizzy came up and sat in, said, "This is the band I should have had." - Idrees Sulieman, Cadence, September 1979, p.6."The Jazz Messengers really started in 1949, but then it was called the 17 Messengers. The cats that put the band together came to me and told me I was going to be the leader. Being a musician has nothing to do with being a leader; I was a good organizer. That's always been my talent. The 17 Messengers was a good band; there were a lot of great players in it like Sonny Rollins and Bud Powell. We were just playing around New York - making a few gigs - but economically the band was a disaster, so we had to break it up." - Art Blakey, quoted by Herb Nolan in Down Beat, November 1979, p.21.
"We had the 17 Messengers and most of the guys were Muslims, this was between '47 and '50. Guys started rehearsing, and the guy doing most of the writing was Kenny Dorham. But at that time big bands were going out, not coming in. It was a financial disaster. I was leading the band and I couldn't carry the weight like that. I had four children and a wife and I couldn't be bothered with that - so the band broke up." - Art Blakey, Cadence, July 1981, pp.10-11.
"The Jazz Messengers was originally formed as a 17 piece big band in 1947, however it was not until 1953 that the more popular quintet and sextet editions were formed, with Art Blakey and Horace Silver as co-leaders." - James Williams, Down Beat, November 1979, p.89.
December 22, 1947: Abdul Hamid (Kenny Dorham)-t; Sahib Shihab (Edmund Gregory)-as; Musa Kaleem (Orlando Wright)-ts; Ernie Thompson-bar; Haleen Rasheed (Howard Bowe)-tb; Ibrahim Ibn Ismail (Walter Bishop, Jr.)-p; Laverne Barker-b
January 25, 1948: Bennie Harris-t; Thelonious Monk-p [others unknown]
"Art Blakely [sic] and his Messengers were advertised as part of 'Ray Pino Proudly Presents Variation in Modern Music, Sunday, Jan. 25, 1948 3 to 9 PM at Club "845" 160th St. and Prospect Ave., Bronx, NY.'" - NY Amsterdam News, January 24, 1948.
February 16, 1948: Idrees Sulieman-t; Thelonious Monk-p; Curley Russell-b
c. March 1948: Sahib Shihab-as; Thelonious Monk-p; Al McKibbon-b
[Peter Keepnews supplied personnel as the article only says "Thelonious Monk and his Blue Note recording artists" - this seems related to the following entry.]
c. 1948: Sahib Shihab-as; Walter Bishop, Jr.-p; unknown-b (perhaps Charles "Sonny" Wellesley)
"My first gig was with Art and I stayed about 12 or 14 weeks. At that time, Monday was a big night at Minton's. Blakey had a quartet with Sahib Shihab on alto. I really kind of got it together in that group." - Walter Bishop, Jr., Down Beat, March 24, 1977, p.17.
- [Ahmed Abdul-Malik also claims to have played with Blakey in 1948 (as well as in 1945) in his Encyclopedia of Jazz questionnaire.]
[The Minton's quartet gig is reported as lasting eight months in Jazz Hot 1/59.]
[Blakey and Miles Davis were arrested for possession of heroin at the LA airport on their way to San Francisco for another Eckstine gig. - Vail p.35]
[The Eckstine sextet is listed as: Miles Davis-t; Budd Johnson-ts; Bobby Tucker-p; Tommy Potter-b - Jazz Hot 1/59]
"At that time, Art had a band consisting of about nine pieces, I believe it was. Let's see, he had trumpet, trombone, alto sax, tenor sax, baritone sax, piano, bass, drums, and congas. Right. And it was kind of a dance band. Like, you know, playing around Harlem and in the Bronx and all over Manhattan for different dance functions, you know, club affairs and things like that. And anyway, Bo McCain was working with that band. They weren't working very regular, but he was working with them. But he also played this weekend job out in Carteret, New Jersey, that I worked on. And Art's piano player at that time was goofin' off and wasn't making the rehearsals, or wasn't showing up sometime for the gigs, something where he'd be late or something, and they wanted a new piano player. So Bo recommended me and he brought me to a rehearsal one day, and I, you know, sat down, and I was able to read the music okay. I read music pretty good and they hired me, you know, for the gig. That's how I got that gig, that's how I first met Art Blakey and started working with him, with that nine-piece band. And, as I said before, that didn't last very long because we could only get maybe one night a week at a dance gig or something, you know." - Horace Silver, Talking Jazz: An Oral History, November 1985.
"Earl Hines had me so tight when I was in his combo. He bought us all bathrobes and pajamas and he'd send in flowers every morning to put in your bathrobe lapel - 'You never know when the press is coming.' (laughter). [...] He went out with a combo; he had Etta Jones, Harold Clark, Bennie Green, Jonah Jones and myself and I think Tommy Potter. Osie Johnson came in and took my place. Oh, Gate was so mad, he wanted to beat me up. We had a good thing going, but I had to get out of there, it wasn't my thing. I wanted to get myself together so I went and joined Buddy DeFranco." - Art Blakey, Cadence, July 1981.
"Well, he [Buddy DeFranco] had a hell of a rhythm section. He had Curley Russell and Gene Wright and Kenny Drew and myself. We had a ball back there, we didn't care what he did, just set fire to it. But he was a fine person, something else. He turned down a lot of opportunities because of us. Everything wasn't roses back then. They'd expect Buddy DeFranco to come in with an all White band. He'd show up with us and some places we'd come in the Midwest, Idaho, we get our reservations and come in to check in and we say, 'What do you mean there's no room, we have reservations.' They'd say, 'Naw, we got a football game today, your rooms are all gone.' Buddy would say, 'What! Football in August?' (laughter). He'd come in and raise hell; he's a hell of a man." - Art Blakey, Cadence, July 1981.
- [db 5/20/53 p.1 mentions possible European tour for the DeFranco Quartet scheduled to start on 6/5/53. This did not occur.]
"Before the Jazz Messengers, Art Blakey had a little nine-piece band: alto, tenor, baritone, trumpet, trombone and four rhythm, including conga drum. We didn't get much work - just a few dances around New York - but it was a good band. I wrote a few things for that group; a couple didn't come out too well, and a couple of them came out pretty good." - Horace Silver quoted by Bill Kirchner in Radio Free Jazz, October 1976, p.4.
"We're trying to build up a group that has that good old jazz feeling. We want to blow and have a ball and make mistakes, if necessary, but have that good feeling that used to be in jazz. Remember Davey Tough? That's what I mean." - Art Blakey, quoted by Nat Hentoff in Down Beat, December 16, 1953, p.17.
October 31, 1953: Kenny Dorham-t; Lou Donaldson-as; Horace Silver-p; Gene Ramey-b
"When I saw Clifford Brown, I said, 'Well, Jesus, I need a trumpet player,' so Charlie Parker said, 'When you get to Philadelphia and play in the Blue Note on Ridge Avenue, your trumpet player will be there.' I said, 'Who was it?' He said, 'Don't worry about that, you just …uh…and he will be.' And we get there and in the dressing room somebody's back there blowing. This guy had a stocking cap on, suspenders, and blowing his horn, warming up. He sounds beautiful. So Ike Quebec was with me at the time. He said, 'Man, why don't you tell me you're getting a farmer to play trumpet.' (laughter) I say, 'Well, I don't know, Bird tells me…' He said, 'Man, Jesus Christ, man, plus he ain't nothin' but a kid.' And he (Clifford Brown) had a very high voice and was very sweet. So I said, 'Well, come on, we're going to hit.' He (Brown) came out and played the first chorus of it and after he played the first chorus, Ike turned around and cussed me out, 'Dirty so-and-so, how come you didn't tell me the kid could play like that?' (laughter) That's what happened. He upset everybody. You don't know where they're coming from." - Art Blakey, Cadence, July 1981, pp.8-9.
"That's how I met Clifford Brown. I told Bird I'm going to Philadelphia, and I've got to have a trumpet player. He said 'I got a trumpet player for you, you go to the gig and he'll be there. He lives down in Wilmington.' I trusted Bird. I went to Philly and there was Clifford in the dressing room. I'd never seen him before or heard anything about him in my life. He sure surprised the hell out of me." - Art Blakey, quoted by Herb Nolan in Down Beat, November 1979, p.21.
"Charlie Parker hired Clifford Brown. He just told me that this was my new trumpet player, and he told Clifford he wanted him to work with me. When I got to Philadelphia, Clifford was in the dressing room waiting for me. That's the way Bird did everything, that's how much respect he commanded from everybody. Clifford played with me about a year. He'd gotten so damn popular so damn fast that after we made an appearance at Birdland, that was it: he went out on his own with Max Roach. But I sure had a ball while he was there." - Art Blakey, Down Beat March 25, 1976, p.15.
February 21, 1954: Clifford Brown-t; Lou Donaldson-as; Horace Silver-p; Curly Russell-b [definitely all from one night according to Michael Cuscuna]
"A couple of years later I went into Birdland with Clifford Brown, Horace Silver, Curly Russell and Lou Donaldson for a few weeks. We made some live, unrehearsed records and they did pretty well. After that it was Horace who decided we should organize a group. He said, 'We'll call it the Jazz Messengers.' So it was Horace who really put the name on it, and it stuck." - Art Blakey, quoted by Herb Nolan in Down Beat, November 1979, p.21.
"I remember when I first met him. I used to call him 'The Connecticut Yankee.' We met at Birdland when he was with Stan Getz. I had broken up the 17 Messengers and when we formed the group with Horace, Hank Mobley, and Kenny Dorham, he said let's call it the Jazz Messengers. It started out as a corporation. That didn't work out too good. So we just went on with it. We just carried on and tried to get other musicians to play jazz and build names and get them out there because we need more groups out there to hold the joints open, the jazz joints throughout the United States. I wasn't too successful at doing that but at least we tried and I had a ball doing it." - Art Blakey, Radio Free Jazz, March 1977, pp.17-18.
"The group before with Horace, Lou Donaldson and Clifford Brown was a very, very happy group. I never will forget that one. And the records still sound fresh today." - Art Blakey, Radio Free Jazz, March 1977, pp.17-18.
"It was just one of those times and it was the right combination, it was a good spirit and the guys really loved each other." - Art Blakey, Cadence, July 1981, p.9.
[Clifford Brown joined Max Roach in March 1954 - db 10/12/61 p.19]
1954: Joe Gordon-t; Gigi Gryce-as; Freddie Redd-p; Bernie Griggs-b; Sabu Martinez-cga
"After that I met Art Blakey and he asked me would I come with the group. This was the first Messengers, with Gigi Gryce, Joe Gordon, Bernard Griggs, and Sabu on conga. People seem to like the conga a lot now - I guess it stirs those innermost feelings! Purely from a musician's point of view, it was really something, because Sabu's a great player. What with Art and Sabu, that was a lot of drums! It was a great experience working with Art because he always maintained a certain level - he never stopped swinging." - Freddie Redd, quoted by Valerie Wilmer in Jazz Journal, April 1961, p.4.
May 20, 1954: Joe Gordon-t; Gigi Gryce-as; Walter Bishop, Jr.-p; Bernie Griggs-b (unidentified conga probably Sabu Martinez)
"Late in 1954 a quartet under the leadership of Horace Silver was playing at Minton's Playhouse. As a result of earlier successes on the Blue Note label, Horace's star was in the ascendancy and Alfred Lion was anxious to record more of his brilliant hard driving piano. It was decided that this date would present Horace as a combo leader for the first time. He responded by getting Kenny Dorham and Art Blakey to join himself and two of the members of his Minton's quartet, Hank Mobley and Doug Watkins. Thus the Messengers were born, or reborn." - Ira Gitler, notes to Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers.
- "After leaving Gillespie in September 1954, Mobley joined pianist Horace Silver's quartet at Minton's Playhouse, a group completed by bassist Doug Watkins and drummer Arthur Edgehill. 'On weekends Art Blakey and Kenny Dorham would come to jam, 'cause they were right around the corner,' Mobley recalled to Litweiler." - Bob Blumenthal, notes to Mosaic Hank Mobley set.
"So Horace Silver got Hank Mobley and Kenny Dorham and Doug Watkins and myself and said, 'Art, you should be the leader since you have more experience than the rest of the guys and we'd like to have you up here with us.' And I said, 'Well, what should we call the band?' He said, 'We can't call it 17 Messengers, so we'll call it Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.' And that's the way the band started and this is what Horace named it and it's stuck ever since. We didn't expect the band to go world wide and make a lot of money, we were just trying to make some gigs and play, because we were tired of goin' on gigs and jamming with a pick-up band, play the same old tunes. People got tired of that shit and I could see they were getting tired and I don't like chaos anyhow. I like freedom, but without discipline, it's chaos. So we wrote arrangements, got sharp - got some suits, started paying attention to the audience and put it together." - Art Blakey, Cadence, July 1981, p.11.
November 13, 1954: Kenny Dorham-t; Hank Mobley-ts; Horace Silver-p; Doug Watkins-b
[In his Encyclopedia of Jazz questionnaire, Donald Byrd indicates he joined the band in December 1955 after working with George Wallington from August to October of that year.]
"My second encounter with him [Horace Silver] was just before I joined the Messengers. Between Horace and Doug Watkins recommending me, I got to join Blakey and the Messengers. I was staying at that same hotel by then and I knew all of Horace's music, he used to show it to me. We were together in the Messengers about a year, and I used to work off and on with him when he first got his own band together, filling in for Art Farmer. I recorded with him, because Art was under contract elsewhere, so I wound up making "Señor Blues" and "Virgo" and all those things, in 1956." - Donald Byrd, Radio Free Jazz, March 1977, p.13
March 6, 1956: Donald Byrd-t; Hank Mobley-ts; Horace Silver-p; Doug Watkins-b
- [lasted until May 1956. Broke up due to drug problems in the group. Horace Silver's quintet debuted at the Blue Note, Philadelphia in August 1956.]
"Horace went out on his own and didn't look back and I'm very proud of him, because he was in the band and he was very shy when he came in and I told him besides playing you've got to write. So he started writing and his writing was good. He kept it up and he was going. He was very quiet and very nice to me. One night on TV - I don't know where he was - he said, 'I really thank God for Art Blakey because he really got on me and helped me to go on and start writing.' And that made me feel so good. I've never forgotten it. And we've been tight ever since. We've been very good friends. His music is beautiful. He learned how to voice very well. He learned how to utilize two horns to the fullest extent. That's one thing I learned from him. Instead of hearing a whole lot of horns he'd take two horns and get just as much out of two as you can get out of three in most cases. He would utilize every thing. He just turned out to be a hell of an arranger. The more he did it, the better he got. He has some very, very beautiful things like "Nica's Dream." I had a ball playing with him in the rhythm section. We seem to fit together. When he got his own groups he wanted all his drummers to play in the same style as I was trying to play. We always got along musically as well as spiritually and otherwise." - Art Blakey, Radio Free Jazz, March 1977, pp.17-18.
"It first started out being a cooperative thing, but it didn't work because it wasn't equal. I had the weight and it had to go my way and Horace went on his own and that's when we began to bring different cats in. I just kept goin' with it. Well, somebody got to stay here and keep the store and it's been continuing ever since." - Art Blakey, Cadence, July 1981, p.11.
- June 25, 1956: Donald Byrd-t; Ira Sullivan-ts, t; Kenny Drew-p; Wilbur Ware-b
[lasted 2 months]
"Ira [Sullivan] didn't get to New York until the summer of 1956 when Art Blakey hired him for the tenor chair with the Jazz Messengers. He was the first white musician to work with the group. This was the edition of the Messengers that included Donald Byrd, Wilbur Ware, and Kenny Drew. But Ira wasn't happy just playing tenor; he wanted to play trumpet. He says he feels his taking the Blakey job on tenor was 'the biggest mistake of my life.' He explains, 'I was still under Sonny Stitt's influence at the time. I couldn't pick up my tenor without thinking of him. I had little originality, and I didn't want to be exposed to the public as a tenor man. I wanted to play my trumpet.' 'I don't think Art ever thought of me as a trumpet player,' he continued. 'Nobody did except Bird.' After a month and a half, Ira and the Jazz Messengers parted company. He stayed around New York and recorded with J.R. Monterose for Blue Note and Billy Taylor for ABC-Paramount." - Down Beat, September 15, 1960, p.19
[Ira Gitler says that Byrd joined Max Roach's group in July 1956. (notes to Pairing Off, Prestige 7046)]
[Lee Morgan was a member alongside Spanky DeBrest for 2 weeks in the summer of 1956. (EoJ)]
October 30, 1956: Bill Hardman-t; Jackie McLean-as; Sam Dockery-p; Spanky DeBrest-b
"I went with Art Blakey, the Daddy, when I left Mingus. I worked with Art for nearly three years and traveled all over the States. He is the greatest bandleader I've ever worked with, as a leader, you know. He's strong, tender-hearted, firm and quite intelligent. He sets a pace as far as swinging goes, and very few can keep up with him night after night. He honored me by telling me that I was the only alto player he would hire, and he's used tenor players since." - Jackie McLean, quoted by Valerie Wilmer in Jazz Journal, July 1961, p.4.
March 30, 1957: Bill Hardman-t; Jackie McLean-as; Johnny Griffin-ts; Sam Dockery-p; Spanky DeBrest-b
"My experience in Art's band was excellent because that's exactly the style of music I like to play. Very explosive, strong, fire all the time. We used to have games, like warfare, between the front line and back line - the horns and the rhythm section. There was a spirit of competition, but in a playful and positive spirit." - Johnny Griffin, quoted by Len Lyons in Down Beat, August 9, 1979, p.15.
* April 2, 1957: Lee Morgan, Bill Hardman-t; Sahib Shihab-as; Johnny Griffin-ts; Cecil Payne-bar; Melba Liston-tb; Wynton Kelly-p; Spanky DeBrest-b
May 13, 1957: Bill Hardman-t; Johnny Griffin-ts; Sam Dockery-p, Spanky DeBrest-b
"Thelonious and Art were good friends, too. When I was with the Jazz Messengers, Art would always say, 'Why don't you get Thelonious to play with us?' Then when I was with Monk, Thelonious would say, 'Hey, can't you get Buhaina to play with us?' They both had excellent bands, though, and we all hung out together anyway. Monk and Blakey played well together, too. They really complemented each other. Listen to some of those recordings they did." - Johnny Griffin, quoted by Len Lyons in Down Beat, August 9, 1979, p.15.
"Griffin has been with the Messengers only seven months, replacing Jackie McLean, who lost his job because he could not break the Habit." - Russ Wilson, Oakland Tribune, July 7, 1957, p.B15
October 9, 1957: Bill Hardman-t; Johnny Griffin-ts; Junior Mance-p; Spanky DeBrest-b
"In October, Blakey and his Jazz Messengers will be Europe-bound on a tour that is to follow the itinerary of Lionel Hampton's recent jaunt." - John Tynan, Down Beat, October 17, 1957, p.15. - [It seems this 1957 trip did not occur.]
"Bethlehem recorded Art Blakey and a big band, with John Coltrane, Donald Byrd, Frank Rehak, Wendell Marshall, Walter Bishop, Melba Liston, and Al Cohn. Blakey is working out a schedule for his upcoming overseas tour with the Messengers, including Donald Byrd." - Down Beat, February 6, 1958, p.8
[No mention of the Jazz Messengers made in Down Beat feature on Golson 5/15/58 pp.19, 41]
"Golson, then 29, was freelancing in New York following the breakup of the Dizzy Gillespie big band when he got an urgent call from Blakey asking him if he could take Jackie McLean's place with the Messengers. The band was due to open that night in a New York club and McLean had his cabaret card withdrawn." - Jazz Journal International, September 1977, p.8
"I said, 'Art, you're a great man. This pay is nothing for you. It makes me sad,' And he looked at me with his sad beautiful cow eyes and said, 'Can you help me ?' And I can't believe what came out of my mouth, this young upstart who hadn't been in New York too long. I said, 'Yes, if you'll do exactly what I tell you.' How dared I ? But he went for it. He said 'What should I do ? And I said, 'Get a new band.'" - Benny Golson, quoted by Doug Ramsey in liner notes to
1958: Bill Hardman-t; Benny Golson-ts; John Houston-p; Spanky DeBrest-b
1958: Bill Hardman-t; Benny Golson-ts; Bobby Timmons-p; George Tucker-b
"Benny Golson stayed on with Art Blakey's Messengers, including pianist Bob Timmons, bassist George Tucker, and trumpeter Bill Hardman." - db 6/26/58 p.36
- [According to db 8/21/58 p.8, Thelonious Monk was scheduled to perform with the Jazz Messengers at Randall's Island.]
October 30, 1958: Lee Morgan-t; Benny Golson-ts; Bobby Timmons-p; Jymie Merritt-b
- [According to Nat Hentoff's notes to Expoobident, Lee Morgan joined the Messengers in September 1958.]
"Lee Morgan is due to take the trumpet spot in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers." - db 10/2/58 p.10
"I went home that night to my room at 116th Street and 7th Avenue and wrote this thing [Blues March]. I knew it couldn't be the kind of march you hear from military bands. It had to be a funky, Grambling College type thing. It was a blues, but just a little different. I figured it was a novelty and would never last, just something to get us over, maybe. I took it in and we rehearsed it. I told Art to pretend he was with the American Legion band, and he did." -Benny Golson, quoted by Doug Ramsey in liner notes
"Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers leave Nov. 1 for a month-long tour of Europe" - db 10/16/58 p.8 [obviously postponed]
"Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers were set to make a European tour that includes Scandinavia and a week in Paris in mid-November, returning about the end of the year." - db 11/13/58 p.10
Bobby Bryant-t; Benny Golson-ts; Bobby Timmons-b; Jymie Merritt-b
- [Lee Morgan had pneumonia]
"All of us who came through Art's band, we would do anything for him. Freddie Hubbard and I were talking about that the other day. When I left that band, I was in trouble. I could not play with another drummer. I was irritated, I was annoyed, I would get angry, because I wasn't hearing what I was used to hearing. When I joined his band, I was playing soft, and mellow, and smooth, and syrupy. By the time I left I was playing another way, because I had to. He would do one of those famous four-bar drum rolls going into the next chorus, and I would completely disappear. He would holler over at me, 'Get up out of that hole!' He taught us a lot." - Benny Golson, quoted by Gene Lees in Waiting For Dizzy.
March 8, 1959: Lee Morgan-t; Hank Mobley-ts; Bobby Timmons-p; Jymie Merritt-b
[Hank Mobley arrested.]
1959: Lee Morgan-t; Bobby Timmons-p; Jymie Merritt-b
July 1959: Lee Morgan-t; Hank Mobley-ts; Bobby Timmons-p; Jymie Merritt-b
Summer 1959: Lee Morgan-t; Bobby Timmons-p; Jymie Merritt-b
"We were at a Canadian jazz festival, and the Jazz Messengers came on. And they had no tenor player - Hank Mobley had gone. Blakey was playing Monk's tune 'Evidence'. Blakey would say 'We'd like to play a tune by the high priest of bop. He calls it "Evidence", but we call it "Justice".' Lee Morgan saw me from the bandstand, and after the set he came running over and said, 'Hey, Wayne, you want to play with us?' And I said, 'Shit, yeah!'" - Wayne Shorter, quoted by Conrad Silvert in Down Beat, July 14, 1977, p.16.
"I went back and saw Art Blakey and he said just one sentence: 'You got eyes?' I said yeah, I got eyes but I'd only been with Maynard for four weeks and that would've been disloyal. Like hello-goodbye. So, later, Maynard gets a call from Art way down in French Lick, Indiana. 'Look, we're in trouble. We don't have a sax player and you know Wayne ain't gonna stay with you too long because he's a small group man.'" - Wayne Shorter, quoted by Brian Case in Wire, December 1984, p.12.
"We were at some big festival in Canada and I remember Lee Morgan and Bobby Timmons, they hopped a fence and ran across what looked like a race-track, and jumped over another fence where I was sitting. And Lee, he said, 'How would you like to work with the Messengers?' Immediately, I said, 'Yeah.' I worked one more engagement, at Birdland with [Maynard] Ferguson and the next night I went with Blakey at the French Lick." - Wayne Shorter, Down Beat, June 20, 1974, p.16.
* July 28-29, 1959: Lee Morgan-t; Barney Wilen-ts, ssx; Bobby Timmons-p; Jymie Merritt-b; John Rodriguez, Tommy Lopez, Willie Rodriguez-perc
1959: Lee Morgan-t; Barney Wilen-ts; Bobby Timmons-p; Jymie Merritt-b
August 1959: Lee Morgan-t; Wayne Shorter-ts; Bobby Timmons-p; Jymie Merritt-b
November 3, 1959: Lee Morgan-t; Wayne Shorter-ts; Walter Davis, Jr.-p; Jymie Merritt-b
[Down Beat 3/3/60 pp.50-51 says that Vee Jay recorded Wayne Shorter while the Messengers were playing the Sutherland Lounge in Chicago. However, Wayne Shorter's first Vee Jay record Introducing Wayne Shorter was supposedly recorded on November 10, 1959 when the Messengers were back in NYC. Clearly this cannot refer to the Second Genesis album recorded in Chicago on October 11, 1960.]
January 1960: Lee Morgan-t; Jerome Richardson-bar; Bobby Timmons-p; Jymie Merritt-b; Benny Golson-comp, arr
[The above edition of the Jazz Messengers recorded the Benny Golson-composed score for a 10 minute cartoon film produced by the Methodist Church designed to promote traffic safety called Stop Driving Us Crazy. Two tunes ("Crazy Drivin' Blues" and "No Time for Speed" were released on a 45 rpm single. - db 2/4/60 p.11. I am somewhat skeptical of the dating on this recording, which appears in the Bruyninckx and Raben discographies. Seems like pre-Shorter would be a more likely placement. I have heard this item.]
March 6, 1960: Lee Morgan-t; Wayne Shorter-ts; Bobby Timmons-p; Jymie Merritt-b
[A private tape from Birdland exists dated 4/5/60 (April 5, 1960) but this date is clearly wrong. Possible that it is later in April 1960. May 4, 1960 is another possibility.]
"Art Blakey used my tunes right from the beginning. I wrote 'Sakeena's Vision' about his daughter, who is now 19, and 'Sincerely Diana' was about Art's wife. I was getting away from the old 12-bar structure, you know, the melody can go somewhere else, or come back to itself, but in another way." - Wayne Shorter, quoted by Conrad Silvert in Down Beat, July 14, 1977, p.58.
[Bobby Timmons and Walter Davis, Jr. trade off on piano from 1960 into 1961]
"In those bands, when we would play a certain number in order to imitate someone else, we would do it with fun. Sometimes, maybe, I would imitate something that Eddie 'Lockjaw' Davis might do. Lee would imitate a lotta people, y'know, like Fats Navarro. For a while, Walter Davis played piano with us and he would go through all of the piano players of the day. And not only Bud Powell, but every once in a while he'd put an Erroll Garner thing in there." - Wayne Shorter, Down Beat, June 20, 1974, p.16.
"In fact, Tony [Williams] played with the Messengers, at the Storyville in Boston when he was 13 years old. Art asked him to come up and play. For a few minutes, he would play exactly like Art Blakey, kidding around, and then he'd mix in a little Max Roach thing. Mixing it all with some of his own beginnings." - Wayne Shorter, Down Beat, June 20, 1974, p.16.
"There is really no other group to go to from here. I couldn't find anything in any other group that I can't find here. The most important thing with the Messengers is that you never have to worry about that swing. As long as Art's there, that's always there. So you can just go ahead and seek and search and probe new ideas and carry on." - Bobby Timmons, Down Beat, November 24, 1960, p.14
August 7, 1960: Lee Morgan-t; Wayne Shorter-ts; Bobby Timmons-p; Jymie Merritt-b
"The evening concluded with 'A Night in Tunisia' played as an encore at the insistence of emcee [Bob] Leonard. It had little heart but wound up with an electrifying Catherine wheel of sticks by Blakey that infused the sidemen to shout on out to the coda." - John Tynan, Down Beat, March 2, 1961, p.45.
"When we hit Japan in 1960 or 61, I never saw anything like it. There were 7,000 heads going up and down at the same time and humming every note of everything we played….When we first went to Japan, they had Lee Morgan shirts, Wayne Shorter overcoats, all that kind of stuff in the department stores. The same kind of publicity the Beatles got in the U.S., we got in Japan, and plus. I think we're the only American artists that had an audience with the emperor. But this country never said a word about it, never a word." - Art Blakey, quoted by John Litweiler in Down Beat, March 25, 1976, pp.17, 16.
[January 2, 1961 was the date of the first concert by the Messengers who were joined by vocalist Bill Henderson on this Japanese tour. No recordings with Henderson have been released.]
"We've played a lot of countries, but never has the whole band been in tears when we left. My wife cried all the way to Hawaii." - Art Blakey, quoted by Don DeMicheal in Down Beat, May 11, 1961, p.15.
"I gained a lot of worldly knowledge, due to the places we went to. I would say we were the first bebop, progressive band to go through Japan, as a group and play concerts. Art used to refer to Japan as our second home." - Wayne Shorter, Down Beat, June 20, 1974, p.16.
[The Jazz Messengers canceled a mid-January engagement at the Jazz Workshop, San Francisco - Coda 2/61 p.24, db 3/16/61 p.40]
[The Jazz Messengers did not show for Impulse jazz revue at the O'Keefe Centre, Toronto the week of March 20, 1961 - Coda 3/61 p.2, 4/61 p.4]
[Blakey was master of ceremonies at the annual "Gretsch Drum Night At Birdland" "last month" - db 6/8/61 p.11]
June 13, 1961: Lee Morgan-t; Wayne Shorter-ts; Curtis Fuller-tb; Bobby Timmons-p; Jymie Merritt-b
July 2, 1961: Kenny Dorham-t; Wayne Shorter-ts; Bobby Timmons-p; Jymie Merritt-b
Lee Morgan-t; Wayne Shorter-ts; Curtis Fuller-tb?; Bobby Timmons-p; Jymie Merritt-b
"After leaving the [Quincy Jones] band, he [Curtis Fuller] joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, taking a leave of absence from the group last summer to make a South American tour with Coleman Hawkins, after which he rejoined the drummer." - db 3/1/62 pp.16-17
"Monte Kay is producing the first Latin American jazz festival. Starting in Rio De Janeiro, July 12, it was scheduled to move from there for two weeks into such countries as Uruguay, Brazil, and Peru. Kay presented Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge, Jo Jones, Zoot Sims, Curtis Fuller, Ronnie Ball, Tommy Flanagan, Herbie Mann, Ben Tucker, Chris Connor, Ahmed Abdul-Malik, and others. The concerts were emceed by Willis Conover." - db 8/17/61 p.49
[Fuller recorded (with Jymie Merritt) in Brazil on July 16, 1961.]
Summer 1961: Bill Hardman-t; Wayne Shorter-ts; Curtis Fuller-tb; Bobby Timmons-p; Jymie Merritt-b
"Bill gave Lee his job - and then when Lee left a year later, Bill came back for a while, found Freddie Hubbard and then let Freddie take his place in the band." Art Blakey, Jazz Journal International, September 1977, p.8
"Trumpeter Lee Morgan has left Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers to front his own group. The tentative personnel includes Cliff Jordan, tenor saxophone, and Lex Humphries, drums." - db 8/31/61 p.44
"Art Blakey now has a sextet: Curtis Fuller, trombone; Freddie Hubbard, trumpet; Wayne Shorter, tenor saxophone; Cedar Walton, piano; Jymie Merritt, bass." - db 9/28/61 p.10
"Art Blakey told him [Freddie Hubbard], at the end of the summer, that Lee Morgan was leaving the Jazz Messengers to form his own group and offered Hubbard the trumpet spot in what was essentially a new sextet, only saxophonist Wayne Shorter and bassist Jymie Merritt remaining from the previous group." - Ira Gitler, db 1/18/62 p.24
August 8, 1961: Freddie Hubbard-t; Wayne Shorter-ts; Curtis Fuller-tb; Cedar Walton-p; Jymie Merritt-b
[db 2/1/62 announced: "Kay Norton, now part owner of the Jazz Gallery, is signing some artists to exclusive contracts - that is, they will play nowhere else in New York City except at the Gallery. Art Blakey is the first on contract." This didn't last long as the July Birdland engagement shows. Why? Because the Jazz Gallery closed around then. - db 8/16/62 p.10]
"He [Blakey] spoke of recent experiences with East German and Soviet police. 'I argued with them,' he emphasized. 'These are good men; they just have an idea. The only way we can overcome this is to come up with a better idea.' During the Messengers' recent engagement in Helsinki, Finland, Blakey said he took a ride to the Finnish-USSR frontier and right away became embroiled in an argument with the Russian border guards." - db 6/21/62 p.43
["Blakey has such a European commitment - a score for the Italian film Eva." - db 5/10/62 p.12 (interview conducted in L.A.) This film stars Jeanne Moreau and credits the score to Michel LeGrand, but a tune entitled "Eva" was in the Messengers' repertoire - finally released on the CD issue of Ugetsu.]
We've been very lucky. We're the only group that can go abroad and make money. I don't know why this is; but it's beautiful, beautiful." - db 6/21/62 p.20
"The pianist, at least when I was with him, really had to be strong; you had to time your playing to be heard over his powerful style. It was when I joined Blakey that I started gaining power and strength. It was really a great time for us. We were encouraged to learn how to be leaders, and Art was a good model for us. He was good at programming the pieces we played, and he was good with audiences. And I think we all inherited that." - Cedar Walton, quoted by Arthur Moorhead in Down Beat, January 1981, p.27.
October 12, 1962: Hubbard-t; Wayne Shorter-ts; Curtis Fuller-tb; Cedar Walton-p; Reggie Workman-b
[January 2, 1963 was the date of the first concert in Japan by the Messengers who were joined by vocalist Johnny Hartman on this tour. -TN, db 4/11/63 p.44]
[Blakey appeared as part of the annual "Gretsch Drum Night At Birdland" on September 30, 1963 - db 9/26/63 p.10]
[The Jazz Messengers did not appear at the Monterey Jazz Festival as scheduled. Miles Davis filled in. - db 10/10/63 p.49]
"Once with Art Blakey I did 32 takes on a tune. 32 takes! That's melody and solo. Art probably wasn't ready to make that record." - Freddie Hubbard, quoted by Howard Mandel in Down Beat, June 15, 1978, p.18.
March 10, 1964: Lee Morgan-t; Wayne Shorter-ts; Curtis Fuller-tb; Cedar Walton-p; Reggie Workman-b
"Lee Morgan, the trumpeter who first played with Blakey in 1958, rejoined him last spring after three years of attempts to establish himself as a leader. Ironically, he has since had a hit record of his own ("The Sidewinder" on Blue Note), but he is wisely remaining a sideman." - Leonard Feather, New York Post, December 13, 1964, p.54.
[The April 9, 1964 issue of Down Beat p.43 announced that Morgan had replaced Hubbard in the Messengers.]
* 1964: Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard-t; James Spaulding-as; Wayne Shorter-ts; Charles Davis-bar; Curtis Fuller-tb; Julius Watkins-fr hn; Bill Barber-tu; Cedar Walton-p; Reggie Workman-b
[While frequently dated as 1963, I think it more likely that this session occurred in 1964 after the Indestructible dates. The musical Golden Boy opened on Broadway on October 20, 1964. Blakey's Golden Boy was album of the week December 13, 1964 in the New York Post.]
"Wayne waited a year after leaving Blakey before joining Davis, time he used to record Night Dreamer and JuJu for Blue Note." - Tim Logan, Down Beat, June 20, 1974, p.16. - clearly wrong, as this chronology shows. Night Dreamer was made April 29, 1964 and JuJu was recorded August 3, 1964
[Wayne Shorter's first appearance with Miles Davis was September 18, 1964 at the Hollywood Bowl opposite Duke Ellington (db 7/14/77 p.58, date from Stratemann)]
"The kind of timing I learned with Art was almost always consistent. Building your expressions into sort of a climax, ending your solos on something very worthy of sharing with or being remembered by everyone. In fact, before I left, we were starting to stretch out with the arrangements, trying an extended kind of thing with three horns in front on tunes like "Mosaic" and some of the other things we wrote. But at that time I was getting calls from Miles, so I figured five years, that's enough for a cycle." - Wayne Shorter, Down Beat, June 20, 1974, p.16.
October 1964: John Hicks-p - [db 6/86 p.27]
"Art was pretty heavy on piano players. There were tons of tunes to learn and Art wouldn't allow any music on the bandstand. He said you were supposed to remember it. Art just sort of pushed me out there and said, 'You got it.' Of course once I got into it I saw how great it was." - John Hicks, quoted by Joel Herson in Down Beat, June 7, 1979, p.32.
[Sonny Rollins filled in for the Jazz Messengers at Birdland, NYC (October 13-25, 1964) who were "unable to appear when the drummer-leader sprained his right arm in a fall in early October. The Messengers had originally been scheduled in place of the Miles Davis Sextet, which had to cancel out when the trumpeter's recurring hip ailment acted up again." - Down Beat, December 3, 1964, p.9.]
October 21, 1964: Lee Morgan-t; John Gilmore-ts; John Hicks-p; Victor Sproles-b
[Curtis Fuller was "hospitalized in New York City with a serious tonsil infection but is scheduled to rejoin the band after it finished its run at McKie's." - db 12/3/64 p.44]
* November 1964: Roy Haynes subs for Art Blakey on a tour of Japan
"Well, he [John Gilmore] was with Sun Ra and he came from Chicago and I made some recordings with him on Blue Note [BLP1549]. I liked the way he played, very hip. So it came we needed a tenor player, we were on our way to Japan and Lee Morgan went and got John Gilmore and he played very well. He made the tour with us, but he had other commitments." - Art Blakey, Cadence, July 1981, p.11.
November 14, 1964: Lee Morgan-t; John Gilmore-ts; Curtis Fuller-tb; John Hicks-p; Victor Sproles-b
[January 2, 1965 was the date of the first concert in Japan by the Messengers, who were joined on this tour by vocalist Pat Thomas.]
February 27, 1965: Lee Morgan-t; John Gilmore-ts; John Hicks-p; Victor Sproles-b
[The Messengers began a concert tour of France, Switzerland and England on February 27, 1965. - db 3/25/65 p.13]
Spring 1965: Gary Bartz-as
"Art didn't have any music, so we didn't have that problem. We'd have a rehearsal during the day and play the music that night. You either learned it or messed it up…and you'd keep messing it up until you learned it." - Gary Bartz, db 3/2000 p.34.
* May 12, 1965: Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard-t; Gary Bartz-as; John Hicks-p; Victor Sproles-b
May 14, 1965: Lee Morgan-t; Gary Bartz-as; John Gilmore-ts; John Hicks-p; Victor Sproles-b
June 11, 1965: Gary Bartz-as; John Gilmore-ts; John Hicks-p; Victor Sproles-b
- [Ben Tucker played bass at some point during the Half Note engagement - photo in db 7/29/65 p.18]
June 18, 1965: Charles Tolliver-t; Gary Bartz-as; John Hicks-p; Victor Sproles-b
[It appears that Goldblatt is in error in listing Lee Morgan and John Gilmore in the band.]
[Blakey also participated in a drum workshop on July 3, 1965 at Newport with Louis Bellson, Buddy Rich, Elvin Jones, Papa Jo Jones and Roy Haynes playing with Johnny Coles, George Coleman, Billy Taylor, Ben Tucker. - Goldblatt, Jazz Magazine 10/65 p.28]
August 13, 1965: Gary Bartz-as; Frank Mitchell-ts; Curtis Fuller-tb; John Hicks-p; Eddie Gomez-b (subbing)
* October 30, 1965: Freddie Hubbard-t; Nathan Davis-ts; Jaki Byard-p; Reggie Workman-b
[This group was billed as Art Blakey's New Jazzmen and although George Tucker was scheduled to participate, his death on October 10, 1965 prevented this. Poster for the Paris Jazz Festival with Tucker's name listed is reproduced in Jazz Journal 1/66 p.6.]
"One time, in 1966, we had come back to New York from a gig in Cincinnati, and all that week we were hearing advertisements on the radio for Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers at the Jazzmobile. Neither Hicks nor I had heard from Bu about this, but we figured, 'Well, we know where we're working.' So we went up there. We could hear music from all the way down the block. And there was the Jazzmobile moving down the street, with Art and a whole new band!" - Gary Bartz, quoted by Karen Bennett in Musician, February 1991, p.36. It would seem that the 1966 date mentioned should be 1965.
"I came back to Rochester for a weekend during this time and promptly got a call from Art Blakey in New York. So I went with Art for two years and recorded two albums with him. At that time we had Frank Mitchell on tenor and Reggie Johnson on bass. John Hicks had just left so Keith Jarrett was on piano. Then Mike Nock was on for a while and then Chick Corea came on the band. What a school that was! I went to school with piano players. But then after two years I couldn't handle it anymore...work two weeks, off a week, work a weekend, be off the week..." - Chuck Mangione, quoted by Jim Szantor in Down Beat, November 25, 1971, p.12.
November 9, 1965: Chuck Mangione-t; Frank Mitchell-ts; Lonnie Liston Smith-p; Reggie Johnson-b
On November 19, 1965, Blakey participated in a drum workshop at Hunter College, NYC with Max Roach, Jo Jones, Joe Morello, Roy Haynes, Louie Bellson and pianist Billy Taylor [VV 11/11/65 p.16]
"Then in New York I was sitting at home twiddling my thumbs and playing the drums and getting all the neighbors mad. Finally I got to play for about ten minutes at the Vanguard; it was a jam session thing. Tony Scott and Art Blakey were both there. So I worked with Tony a few times at the Dom and then Art got in touch with me. I was with him four months." - Keith Jarrett, quoted by Bob Palmer in Down Beat, October 24, 1974 p.16.
January 1, 1966: Chuck Mangione-t; Frank Mitchell-ts; Keith Jarrett-p; Reggie Johnson-b
"I never did believe in separatism. Don't forget that as far back as 1965 I had Chuck Mangione and Keith Jarrett in the band. The 1960's were a difficult time for everybody to get along together, because the black consciousness thing was very strong, and instead of just playing the music, some cats were using the bandstand for a political rostrum. That hurt. It had nothing to do with our musical objectives. Most of those guys didn't even vote. All we're supposed to do, I feel, is try to make people happy." - Art Blakey, quoted by Leonard Feather in L.A. Times, October 30, 1977, p.78.
"And these musicians were black. And they couldn't keep time. And they couldn't play. They couldn't play the blues. I had to get a white trumpet player to play the blues! At least Chuck Mangione come in here and play the blues. He tried to play the blues, do everything he possibly could. You know? And these kids standin' around trying to put these guys down. Oh, they put Keith Jarrett down in my band, Chuck Mangione. When they heard the band, I said, come on, you want to sit in? They didn't dare. Not one of them. They didn't dare. I knew exactly what I was doing. When I needed a trumpet player, I called Dizzy. Dizzy said, 'I got it. Chuck Mangione.' Sent him right to me. And that was a blessing, 'cause I didn't have any. Couldn't find none nowhere. And this is what was happening. Oh, there probably were some down in the south or out west, but I didn't hear anyone here in New York. Regardless of what they doing out there, if you ain't in New York you in trouble. You know what I mean, you don't want no musician coming out from Chicago coming in unless he's an exception. But he's got to be in New York. That's what I tell all the musicians when I meet them. Get to New York. Get there. Go there and stay. Exchange ideas." - Art Blakey, Jazz Magazine, Winter 1979, p.48.
"It was really a misfit. The reason why things were so terribly unbalanced there was because we had Keith, who was a very accomplished musician and there were other musicians in the band who were growing. Sometimes a man has so much talent he would get bored waiting for the rest of the cats to catch up. And Keith could play other instruments too and he knew what the saxophone player was doing wrong, what the trumpet player was doing wrong. He was in the band because of me, because he liked me. But it's like a kid in school, put him in the wrong class and he gets bored." - Art Blakey, Cadence, July 1981, p.9.
"At the time, the management of that band was a complete shambles, but there were other things, all through that period, like nearly crashing on a drive out to the West Coast. It was one of the most nervewracking trips anybody has ever taken; Chuck got out of the car in Oklahoma and took a plane the rest of the way. At any rate, I decided to leave and our last job was in Boston. I had met Charles Lloyd there earlier. […] Now, when I decided I was leaving Art's group, I looked at the club's schedule and Charles was coming in the following week, so off the top of my head I called him up. He had already asked Steve Kuhn but somehow he got out of that or Steve had to do something else." - Keith Jarrett, quoted by Bob Palmer in Down Beat, October 24, 1974 p.16.
[Jarrett was performing with Charles Lloyd as early as February 16, 1966 (TV broadcast)]
c. Spring 1966: Chuck Mangione-t; Frank Mitchell-ts; Mike Nock-p; Reggie Johnson-b
April 1966: Chuck Mangione-t; Frank Mitchell-ts; Lonnie Liston Smith-p; Reggie Johnson-b
"Drummer Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, at the Village Vanguard in April, had pianist Lonnie [Liston] Smith in place of Mike Nock, who had replaced Keith Jarrett." - Down Beat, June 2, 1966, p.14
Spring 1966: Chuck Mangione-t; Frank Mitchell-ts; Chick Corea-p; Reggie Johnson-b
October 1966: Chuck Mangione-t; Frank Mitchell-ts; Chick Corea-p; Juni Booth-b
"Yeah, it was just after the time that Chuckie Mangione and Chick were playing in Art Blakey's band. They left the band at the same time, and so Chick, Chuck, Joe Romano, Frank Pullara, and myself got a job playing six nights a week in Rochester, while I was going to Eastman." - Steve Gadd, Down Beat, July 1982, p.16. [This could not have lasted long because Corea soon joined the Stan Getz group, reported in db 1/12/67. This article also mentioned Bobby Timmons taking Corea's place for a tour of Japan (the one that was canceled).]
* November 3, 1966 Jimmy Owens-t; Wayne Shorter-ts; McCoy Tyner-p; Ben Tucker-b; Elvin Jones, Tony Williams-d
"After Coltrane, I did a little stint with Art Blakey. We went to Japan, and the Japanese put together a tour of drummers - Elvin Jones, Art Blakey and Tony Williams, and I was part of that band. When we'd get through at night there was a piano in the lobby of the hotel, so I sat down and played by myself. One night Art snuck in - I didn't know he was listening - but then he said, 'Ooohh, so you like to play by yourself, huh?' The next night, he said, 'Ladies and gentlemen, here's McCoy Tyner, by himself!'" - McCoy Tyner, db 3/2000 p.14.
[The Japanese immigration department canceled the group's visas because of "possibility of narcotics offenses by the group's personnel", scuttling a tour which was to have started on December 29, 1966. - db 2/9/67 p.11]
February 7, 1967: Bill Hardman-t; Frank Mitchell-ts; McCoy Tyner-p; Juni Booth-b
April 30, 1967: Bill Hardman-t; Joe Henderson-ts; McCoy Tyner-p; Juni Booth-b
- [Blakey also participated in a Sunday drum clinic with Elvin Jones, Jo Jones and Don Lamond]
June 25, 1967: Bill Hardman-t; Billy Harper-ts; Slide Hampton-tb; McCoy Tyner-p; Juni Booth-b
"Briefly, some time before, [Mickey] Bass had worked a one-nighter in Philadelphia with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. In 1967, Bass left [Gloria] Lynne and became the full-time anchorman with Buhaina." - Bill Quinn, RFJ, 9/79 p.17. This would be prior to Fall 1967 when Bass entered NYU.
[Blakey replaced Ben Riley for one set with Thelonious Monk at the Village Gate, NYC in October 1967 - db 9/21/67 p.16]
February 7, 1968: Bill Hardman-t; Billy Harper-ts; Julian Priester-tb; Ronnie Mathews-p; Larry Evans-b
[Blakey also participated in a drum workshop on October 21, 1968.]
November 3, 1968: Randy Brecker-t; Joe Farrell, Billy Harper-ts; Ronnie Mathews-p; Larry Evans-b
November 8, 1968: Bill Hardman-t; Billy Harper-ts; Julian Priester-tb; Ronnie Mathews-p; Larry Evans-b
1968: Woody Shaw-t; Billy Harper-ts; Kenny Barron-p; Buster Williams-b
1969: Isao Suzuki-b
"After working in New York with Art Blakey (1969-70), he [Isao Suzuki] returned to Japan where he worked again as a leader." - New Grove p.1174.
April? 1969: Woody Shaw-t; Tyrone Washington-ts; George Cables-p; Scotty Holt-b
April 15, 1969: Woody Shaw-t; Carlos Garnett-ts; George Cables-p; Scotty Holt-b
early June 1969: Woody Shaw-t; Carlos Garnett-ts; John Hicks-p; Jan Arnet-b
"When I developed confidence with the Samaritans, I got my first long-term gig, in 1969 with Art Blakey, then with Sonny Rollins. I was still learning. It was like going to graduate school. I was really digging into the music, feeling it, watching Art's or Sonny's face light up when I'd get into it." - George Cables, quoted by Lee Underwood in Down Beat, August 1981, p.28.
July 5, 1969: Woody Shaw-t; Carlos Garnett-ts; Curtis Fuller-tb; George Cables-p; Jan Arnet-b
[Blakey also participated in a festival jam session on July 4, 1969 - db 8/21/69 p.25]
[Blakey and Wilbur Ware sat in with Thelonious Monk at the Village Gate, NYC in 1969 - db 10/2/69 p.38]
late 1969: Randy Brecker-t; Carlos Garnett-ts; Sonny Donaldson-p; Skip Crumby-b
January 5, 1970: Bill Hardman-t; Carlos Garnett-ts; Joanne Brackeen-p; Jan Arnet-b
"When I had Joanne Brackeen in the band, we were playing down South. This was in Georgia or somewhere. This guy came up and said, 'Hey, there, Mr. Blakey. You know you got a white gal in the band!' I said, 'No shit, I have to check it out. I thought I had a piano player!'" - Art Blakey, Jazz Magazine, Winter 1979, p.46.
1970: Woody Shaw-t; Ramon Morris-ts; Albert Dailey-p; Mickey Bass-b [RFJ 9/79 p.17]
September 13, 1970: Albert Dailey-p
January 4, 1971: Bill Hardman-t; Don Byas, Ramon Morris-ts; Donald Smith-p; Jymie Merritt-b [bassist may have been Hal Dodson, confirmation needed]
early 1971: Bill Hardman-t; Don Byas, Ramon Morris-ts; Donald Smith-p, voc; Hal Dodson-b
"I had two tenor players. Jeeminy, he [Byas] was here in the United States (in 1970) and he wasn't working, and I couldn't stand that, so I said, 'Come on, work with me.' Fantastic artist, plus the young guys in the group took advantage of his experience." - Art Blakey, Down Beat, March 25, 1976, p.16.
"He [Byas] left the group after one U.S. engagement - at the Club Baron in Harlem." - Down Beat, October 26, 1972, p.10.
May 11, 1971:
[From the Fall of 1971 through early 1973, Blakey performed with The Giants Of Jazz - usually Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Stitt, Kai Winding, Thelonious Monk, and Al McKibbon. Max Roach replaced Blakey for at least one Los Angeles concert in 1973. (db 3/15/73, p.38). A more detailed chronology of these activities can be found here. Blakey was in NYC on 12/29/71 for an interview with Art Taylor for Notes And Tones.]
"I have yet to meet the man who can beat him at chess, or even checkers, or ping-pong. Monk had all the drummers, everybody was so happy to work with Monk. I joined the Giants Of Jazz just because Monk was in there, and I had a chance to be around Dizzy and the cats for a minute. We just made the one tour. The cats are stars, and they're set in their ways. We did the one trio date in London [the two Black Lion Monk LPs], and he just did it because they asked him to and I did it because I'd do anything they'd ask me to do with Monk." - Art Blakey, quoted by John Litweiler in Down Beat, March 25, 1976, p.15.
March 23, 1972: Woody Shaw-t; Buddy Terry-ts, ssx; Joanne Brackeen-p; Austin Wallace-eb
"Meanwhile, Blakey's crew, with [Mickey] Bass along, did a Japan tour and returned to record two albums back-to-back." - Bill Quinn, RFJ, 9/79 p.18.
May 20, 1972: Lee Morgan Memorial Concert, Lincoln Center, NYC [Blakey participated] [db 6/26/72 p.11]
May 23, 1972: Woody Shaw-t; Ramon Morris-f; Buddy Terry-ssx; Essien Nkrumah-g; John Hicks, Walter Davis, Jr.-ep; Stanley Clarke, Mickey Bass-b; Nathaniel Bettis, Sonny Morgan, Pablo Landrum-perc; Emmanuel Rahim-cga
July 28, 1972: Woody Shaw-t; Manny Boyd-f; Ramon Morris-ts; George Cables-p; Stanley Clarke-b; Ray Mantilla-cga
* August 20, 1972: Jeremy Steig-f; George Cables-p; Stanley Clarke-b; Tony Williams-d; Buck Clarke, Ray Mantilla-cga
1972?: Woody Shaw-t; Ramon Morris-ts; Slide Hampton-tb; John Hicks-p; Stanley Clarke-b
1972?: George Adams-ts
"It's funny, when Art called for the gig he said, 'You're part of the Messengers.' I don't remember what band I was playing with then. Art is such a beautiful cat, he just started telling me the names of all the cats who played with him. He said, 'Anybody who comes through New York has got to come through the Messengers. About that time he was giving me all sorts of little pointers. He said, 'You don't have to prove to me that you can play; I wouldn't have called you to come play the gig.' I thought a lot of Art. He just told me to express myself. 'There's no hassling, you don't have to prove to me that you can do anything,' he said." - George Adams, quoted by Lee Jeske in Down Beat, November 1979, p.34.
1972?: Don Pullen-p ["short time" prior to joining Mingus (tapes exist from 2/73) Mandel p.27]
1973: James "Blood" Ulmer-g ["Ulmer only played five jobs in three months with the group"] [db 10/80 p.23] Ulmer recommended by Ramon Morris who was probably also in this group.
[Possible that Ulmer introduced George Adams to Blakey as the two had worked together with Hank Marr in the mid 1960s. No confirmation of this.]
c. February 1973: (weekends only for three weeks)
February 28, 1973: Olu Dara-t, Carter Jefferson-ts; Cedar Walton-p; Mickey Bass-b; Tony Waters, Ray Mantilla-perc
March 26-27, 1973: Woody Shaw-t; Carter Jefferson-ts; Cedar Walton-p; Mickey Bass-b; Tony Waters-cga
May 3, 1973: Woody Shaw-t; Carter Jefferson-ts; Steve Turre-tb; Cedar Walton-p; Mickey Bass-b
July 4, 1973: Eddie Henderson-t; Curtis Fuller-tb; Carter Jefferson-ts; Cedar Walton-p; Mickey Bass-b; Ray Mantilla-cga, timb
July 7, 1973: Bill Hardman-t; Carter Jefferson-ts; Cedar Walton-p; Mickey Bass-b
1973: John Hicks-p [db 6/86 p.27]
August 28, 1973: Eddie Henderson-t; Carter Jefferson-ts; Curtis Fuller-tb; John Hicks?-p; Mickey Bass?-b
1973-74?: Eddie Henderson-t; Carter Jefferson-ts; John Hicks-p; Mickey Bass-b
1973-74?: Eddie Henderson-t; Carter Jefferson-ts; John Hicks-p; Stafford James-b
December 5-9, 1973:
January 22, 1974: Olu Dara-t, Carter Jefferson-ts, ssx, Cedric Lawson-p, org, Stafford James-b
"I've been working with Blakey now for about eight months." - Cedric Lawson, Down Beat, May 23, 1974, p.32.
January 3, 1975: Bill Hardman-t; David Schnitter-ts; Albert Dailey-p; Jymie Merritt-b
1975: Shunzo Ono-t; Nelson Santiago-as; David Schnitter-ts; Kasal Allah-p; Yoshio Suzuki-b
1975: Woody Shaw-t; David Schnitter-ts; Kasal Allah-p; Yoshio Suzuki-b
1975: Woody Shaw-t; David Schnitter-ts; Walter Davis, Jr.-p; Yoshio Suzuki-b
May 13, 1975: Bill Hardman-t, David Schnitter-ts, Ronnie Mathews-p, Yoshio Suzuki-b
May 16, 1975: Bill Hardman-t; David Schnitter-ts; Walter Davis, Jr.-p; Yoshio Suzuki-b
October 11, 1975: Bill Hardman-t, David Schnitter-ts, Ronnie Mathews-p, Yoshio Suzuki-b
* October 18, 1975: Bill Hardman, Woody Shaw-t, Jackie McLean-as; Hank Mobley-ts; Curtis Fuller-tb; Walter Davis, Jr., Harold Mabern-p; Jymie Merritt, Reggie Workman-b
"Cedar told me he stayed the better part of three years. Horace started and went 2 ½, when it was a co-op band. Walter Davis was in and out five or six times. Timmons was already a star - "Dis Here", "Dat Dere", "Moanin'" - and he stayed two years. John Hicks and Albert Dailey were practically platooning on the gig. Schnitter told me that around 1974-75 on a given night, he wouldn't know who'd be on the stool." - James Williams, quoted by Fred Bouchard in Jazz Times, January 1983, p.5.
February 15, 1976: Bill Hardman-t; David Schnitter-ts; John Hicks-p; Yoshio Suzuki-b
March 15, 1976: Bill Hardman-t; David Schnitter-ts; Albert Dailey-p; Yoshio Suzuki-b
[Albert Dailey and John Hicks at different times replaced Walter on piano and Bill Hardman sometimes replaced Woody Shaw. - DS]
April 1976: Bill Hardman-t; David Schnitter-ts; Mickey Tucker-p; Chris Amberger-b
c. May 1976: Sonny Lewis-sax; Russell Ferrante-p; Chris Amberger-b
c. May 1976: Wallace Roney-t; Chris Amberger-b
c. May 1976: Bill Hardman-t; David Schnitter-ts; Mickey Tucker-p; Chris Amberger-b
* June 3, 1976: Bill Hardman, Woody Shaw-t; David Schnitter-ts; Mickey Tucker-p; Chris Amberger-b
June 19, 1976: Bill Hardman-t; David Schnitter-ts; Mickey Tucker-p; Chris Amberger-b
* June 29, 1976: Freddie Hubbard, Bill Hardman-t; David Schnitter-ts; Mickey Tucker-p; Chris Amberger-b
"'Backgammon' was a warmup with Blakey switching from brushes to sticks and back again. His licks varied the mood but the rest of the group was up to it. 'Along Came Betty' started innocently enough for this Benny Golson gem written for Blakey, until Freddie Hubbard showed up from his gig with Herbie Hancock at another hall. He came on blowing and showed that his technique was still intact. Schnitter, never at a loss for ideas, rose to the occasion and blew some fine choruses while Hardman matched Hubbard all the way.
"Hubbard's face was like a child's, as he watched his ex-boss Blakey move about on traps - utilizing crescendo rolls, stops, double-tempo brushwork and the like. He almost seemed envious, perhaps longing to play again with the old master.
"Hubbard's feature, 'Lover Man', had Blakey shouting at him at the coda, 'Act like a fool!' Art's excitement carried over to the audience as well as his soloists, and his slashing rolls, rim shots and triplets, as he moved from toms to snare, drew shouts and applause each time. At the conclusion of 'A Night in Tunisia', Freddie started an a capella challenge round that saw Hardman triple-tongue in double time with Hubbard matching it." - Arnold Jay Smith, Down Beat, September 9, 1976, pp.13, 40.
"Wow! Wasn't that somethin'? Freddie's so fantastic, isn't he? I really believe in my heart, about Freddie, he loved me like he would his father. I really love that man. He is different, I've heard a lot of people say bad things about him. Around me, he's Freddie Hubbard." - Art Blakey, Jazz Magazine, Winter 1979, p.52.
1976: Bill Hardman-t; David Schnitter-ts; Mickey Tucker-p; Cameron Brown-b
[For about six or seven months, this group toured Japan and Europe as well as the U.S. Nigerian percussionist Ladji Camara was added for the Japanese tour -DS]
"I got a fantastic African drummer who'll be working with me as soon as the economic situation makes it feasible. His name is Ladji Camara, and when he comes on, there's no doubt in your mind where he comes from. He has on his regalia and his clothes, and he has his drums that his great-grandfather built. He has little drums, I guess about six inches, with decorations on the side, and whenever he hits them all the other drummers sound like tin pans. Scare you to death. And then soft as a woman's hands. Ladji does his own tunes, sings, he's there by himself with his vibraphones and everything. I don't try to bring him into jazz, and there's no place in his music for the type of thing that I'm doing. So I just accompany him, without playing the cymbals and stuff." - Art Blakey, quoted by John Litweiler in Down Beat, March 25, 1976, p.17,44.
[Blakey sat in with Curtis Fuller at Storyville in NYC late summer 1976 and met Bobby Watson - db 5/90 p.19]
"Art asked me, 'Whatcha doin? How'd you like to join the Messengers?' Looking back on it, I'm probably one of the only guys he's asked who wasn't beating the doors down. When I told everyone Art had asked me to join, nobody believed me." - Bobby Watson, quoted by Kevin Whitehead in db 5/90 p, 19
October 21, 1976: Bill Hardman-t; David Schnitter-ts; Mickey Tucker-p; Cameron Brown-b; Ladji Camara-perc
December 12, 1976: Frank Gordon-t; David Schnitter-ts; Walter Davis, Jr.-p; Cameron Brown-b
[This group existed for about five weeks - DS]
1977: Johnny Coles-t; Bobby Watson-as; David Schnitter-ts; Amina Claudine Myers-p; Dennis Irwin-b
January 1977 "Valery Ponomarev joined the band last January." - Leonard Feather, L.A. Times 10/30/77 p.78
February 14, 1977: Valery Ponomarev-t; Bobby Watson-as; David Schnitter-ts, Walter Davis, Jr.-p, Dennis Irwin-b
James Williams joined in October 1977 - JT 1/83 p.5
November 27, 1977: Valery Ponomarev-t; Bobby Watson-as; David Schnitter-ts, James Williams-p, Dennis Irwin-b
"About half a year after I got to the U.S. they were playing at the Five Spot in New York. I went down there and somebody introduced me to Art, saying that I was a trumpet player from Russia. He said, 'Yeah man, bring your horn.' He always welcomes new musicians. He's so open-hearted, so warm-hearted, you feel at home right away and I felt I was at home. So I brought my horn, I played a tune and he seemed to like me. He took my number, and when Bill Hardman left they called me and I took his place. I've been with Art Blakey two years and two months now." - Valery Ponomarev, quoted by Larry Birnbaum in Down Beat, June 21, 1979, p.46.
"Bu made me conscious of trying to swing consistently and be rhythmically interesting instead of just thinking of ways to get through tunes. Before him I'd always been the leader, or people could adjust to my playing. So I learned to discipline myself, listen hard, adjust to others, but, most of all, consciously making it swing. I knew that all along, but sometimes you lose your concentration, and do things out of context. You have to edit, check yourself, playing the right thing at the right time." - James Williams, quoted by Fred Bouchard in Jazz Times, January 1983, p.5.
"Bu and I had good rapport and we're still friends. He sometimes made suggestions to me that made me feel good that he brought them out: 'I need you stronger here, take more authority, don't let this happen here, don't let that drag…' He's very comfortable as an accompanist, happy to 'let the cats play.' Many's the night he'd hardly take but one solo. Usually leaders have egos too strong for that - especially drummers!" - James Williams, quoted by Fred Bouchard in Jazz Times, January 1983, p.5.
* October 30, 1979: Bill Hardman-t; Jackie McLean-as; Benny Golson-ts; Curtis Fuller-tb; Cedar Walton-p; Reggie Workman-b
* October 30, 1979: Valery Ponomarev, Bill Hardman-t; Bobby Watson, Jackie McLean-as; David Schnitter, Benny Golson-ts; Curtis Fuller-tb; James Williams, Cedar Walton-p; Dennis Irwin, Reggie Workman-b
"Now I'm going to Europe and they're gonna have the old Messengers. They're gonna have all of 'em come back and play. I know I will have a ball. Any place I feel that I will have something to do with it or some kinda say, I feel it." - Art Blakey, Jazz Magazine, Winter 1979, p.52.
* December 30, 1979: Eddie Henderson-t, flg; Jackie McLean-as; Billy Harper-ts; Curtis Fuller-tb; Cedar Walton-p; ?-b; Airto Moreira-perc [probable that Ponomarev, Watson, Schnitter, Williams, and Irwin were also present]
* December 31, 1979: Valery Ponomarev-t; Eddie Henderson-t, flg; Bobby Watson, Jackie McLean-as; David Schnitter, Billy Harper-ts; Curtis Fuller-tb; James Williams, Cedar Walton-p; Dennis Irwin-b; Airto Moreira-perc; Flora Purim-voc
"One final point, for the benefit of those who saw Freddie Hubbard's name advertised or heard it mentioned on the air as a Blakey alumnus due at the San Francisco bash, the story depends on whom you believe. Freddie never showed, that is certain." - Leonard Feather, Radio Free Jazz, 2/80 p.9
"And that's not unusual that I played with some of the guys that used to be with me. I often travel with some of the old Messengers to San Francisco - we recorded there for Timeless - or Japan, where we also recorded. It's interesting, I take some of the guys who are free. I've used Cedar Walton, Curtis Fuller, and others. We go over, do some concerts and have a ball." - Art Blakey, Down Beat, July 1985, p.22. [The mention of a Timeless recording by a Messengers alumni group appears to be an error.]
c. early 1980: Avery Sharpe-b
"While on the big band tour with Shepp, Avery met Art Blakey who came to hear the band. Art said he'd like to have Sharpe be his next bass player. After Dennis Irwin left Blakey, Sharpe was called into the Messenger service. While working with Blakey, McCoy Tyner first heard Sharpe and was impressed. Sharpe remembered the changes in bass players between Blakey's Messengers and McCoy Tyner's group, and laughed: 'When Charles Fambrough left McCoy I joined him and Fambrough went to Art. It was kind of a trade off. Art is a hell of an institution.'" - John Howard, Down Beat, August 1981, p.52.
March 11, 1980: Valery Ponomarev-t; Bobby Watson-as; Billy Pierce-ts; James Williams-p; Charles Fambrough-b
"He was taking a semi-big band out on tour. The Jazz Messengers were playing a gig in Boston, and some cats in the band asked me to come down to audition, so I just sat in the next night and Art liked me. I got the job." - Kevin Eubanks, quoted by Bill Milkowski in db 7/83 p.48. [apparently this larger band was only used for a European tour in the summer of 1980]
June 21, 1980 Valery Ponomarev, Wynton Marsalis-t; Robin Eubanks-tb, Bobby Watson-as; Billy Pierce-ts; Branford Marsalis-bar, as; Kevin Eubanks-g; James Williams-p; Charles Fambrough-b; John Ramsay-d
"I was lucky to get so much documentation: ten albums and a bootleg. Five or six of my compositions got recorded, a pretty good number. I'd like to have done more, but I got lazy at certain stretches, fell into a slump and did not write consistently. I got really interested in playing, for when the Marsalis brothers and Billy joined the band, there was a whole new dimension to ensembles that had not been there before, that inspired Robert [Watson] and myself to write more challenging music, though still in the tradition. Yeah, Donald [Brown] and I were saying that if we had lead sheets of all the great tunes that the band had played through the years it would be quite a library." - James Williams, quoted by Fred Bouchard in Jazz Times, January 1983, p.5.
August 9, 1980: Wynton Marsalis, Wallace Roney-t; Robin Eubanks-tb; Bobby Watson-as; Billy Pierce-ts; Branford Marsalis-bar, as; Kevin Eubanks-g; James Williams-p; Charles Fambrough-b; [no added drummer?]
"During my first 2 ¾ years there were no changes in the band: Schnitter, Watson and Ponomarev on the line. I thought that the band took off with more consistency and tradition when Billy [Pierce, his old tenor sax buddy from Boston], Charles [Fambrough], and Wynton joined. The first band I was in had an emphasis on solo playing, and didn't really know much about ensemble playing. We paid more attention to detail: subtleties of dynamics, textural changes, more excitement and adventure. We brought Bu out more, too." - James Williams, quoted by Fred Bouchard in Jazz Times, January 1983, p.5.
late August 1980: Wynton Marsalis-t; Bobby Watson-as; Billy Pierce-ts; James Williams-p; Charles Fambrough-b
* c. December 31, 1980: Valery Ponomarev, Eddie Henderson-t; Jackie McLean, Bobby Watson-as; Billy Harper-ts; Curtis Fuller-tb; Cedar Walton-p; Dennis Irwin-b; Airto Moreira-perc
June 26, 1981: Wallace Roney-t; Bobby Watson-as; Billy Pierce-ts; James Williams-p; Charles Fambrough-b
* June 26, 1981: Bill Hardman-t; Jackie McLean-as; Johnny Griffin-ts; Walter Davis, Jr.-p; Victor Sproles-b [MsManagement schedule, rehearsal photo in JT 2/85 p.11]
* June 26, 1981: Donald Byrd-t; Billy Harper-ts; Cedar Walton-p; Jymie Merritt-b [MsManagement schedule]
* June 26, 1981: Freddie Hubbard-t; Billy Harper-ts; Curtis Fuller-tb; Cedar Walton-p; Jymie Merritt-b [JT 9/81 pp.10-11]
* June 26, 1981: Donald Byrd, Freddie Hubbard-t; Billy Harper-ts; Curtis Fuller-tb; Cedar Walton-p; Jymie Merritt-b [MsManagement schedule]
* June 26, 1981: Bill Hardman, Donald Byrd, Freddie Hubbard, Wallace Roney-t; Jackie McLean, Bobby Watson-as; Johnny Griffin, Billy Harper, Billy Pierce-ts; Curtis Fuller-tb; Cedar Walton, Walter Davis, Jr., James Williams-p; Jymie Merritt, Victor Sproles, Charles Fambrough-b [MsManagement schedule mentions Wynton Marsalis who had been replaced by Wallace Roney, JT 9/81 pp.10-11]
"Jesus Christ, what a night! I saw guys I hadn't seen for years! They'd got fat and changed. Donald Byrd was twice the size of me! I looked at him and said, that's you? Freddie Hubbard was up there bustin' outta his suit. Somebody said we shoulda been called Art Blakey and The Jazz Bellybands." - Art Blakey, quoted by Brian Case in Wire, December 1984, p.13.
between July 2-12, 1981: Wallace Roney-t; Bobby Watson-as; Billy Pierce-ts; Donald Brown-p; Charles Fambrough-b
"We had discussed it; then the day came when he said - 'Hey man, I think it's time for you to go.' By that time, he knew pretty well what I was about, what I could do. And he'd shown me this too. I loved Art and he loved me; we could have said -'Let's carry on playing like this forever'. But that's not what he is about. He is about giving as many young people as possible a chance, before he has to hang up his drums." - Bobby Watson, quoted by Anthony Troon in Wire, October 1985, p.37.
July 7, 1981: Wallace Roney-t; Bobby Watson, Branford Marsalis-as; Billy Pierce-ts; Donald Brown-p; Clarence Seay-b
"After [Branford Marsalis's] graduation came five months with the Jazz Messengers. 'Blakey taught me how to play the drums when I play. Rhythm is it. It's what makes soloists different, what makes Sonny Rollins or Bird so great. I understood how time worked when I left Art.'" - Branford Marsalis, quoted by Kevin Whitehead in Down Beat, March 1987, p.18.
Summer 1981: Wynton Marsalis-t; Branford Marsalis-as; Billy Pierce-ts; Donald Brown?-p; Charles Fambrough-b [lineup uncertain, but WM & BM definitely.]
July 31, 1981: Wallace Roney-t; Bobby Watson-as; Billy Pierce-ts; Donald Brown-p; Charles Fambrough-b
* December 4, 1981: Wallace Roney-t, Branford Marsalis-as, ts, Slide Hampton-tb, Donald Brown-p; Charles Fambrough-b; George Kawaguchi-d
January 1982: Wynton Marsalis-t; Branford Marsalis-as; Billy Pierce-ts; Donald Brown-p; Charles Fambrough-b
"Art Blakey, Kenny Burrell and other top jazz names are seen on a still experimental TV project called Keystone for Kids. Chevron/Standard Oil is thus far picking up the tab for this music education series, which is principally aimed at Bay Area school children through classroom video. Wynton Marsalis appeared with Blakey in a demonstration of jazz rhythms, while Burrell had a seven-piece group which went through the many roles of the jazz guitar. For both tapings the audience consisted of local 5th and 6th graders, brought to the Keystone Korner especially for the presentations." - JT 8/82 p.17.
* c. 1982?: Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard-t; Branford Marsalis, Donald Harrison-as; Billy Pierce-ts; others unknown
"Then, in February of 1982, Wynton Marsalis called. 'Wynton had just done his album, he had just come off the tour with Herbie and he was still playing in the band with Art, but he was getting ready to break it off and just get his own band, so he had called me to come and take an audition at Fat Tuesday's. A couple of other trumpet players came down, I auditioned, and they just hired me for the gig. I had three days to learn all the music. Then it was off to Chicago for a week, a couple of gigs in Reno and Boston, and then we went to Europe for 10 weeks.'" - Terence Blanchard, quoted by Lee Jeske in Down Beat, August 1983, p.44.
"We [Blanchard and Harrison] auditioned in the band at Fat Tuesday's. We'd listen to tapes and learn the melodies and the changes and then come back and sit in. One night we played a whole set while Wynton and Branford sat in the back. And then Art said, 'You're a Jazz Messenger now.' And what was wild was that he said, 'I don't want you to give a shit about Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, none of them. I just want you to be in this band and work hard at being the best you can be.' He was naming all my heroes! He wanted me to understand that I couldn't be them. There was no sense for me to try. I just had to be myself." - Terence Blanchard, quoted by Michael Bourne in Down Beat, May 1994, p.18.
[Donald Brown's arthritis led to his leaving the band.]
April 1, 1982: Terence Blanchard-t; Donald Harrison-as; Billy Pierce-ts; Johnny O'Neal-p; Charles Fambrough-b
* April 11, 1982: Freddie Hubbard-t; Benny Golson-ts; Curtis Fuller-tb; Cedar Walton-p; Buster Williams-b
September 1982: Terence Blanchard-t; Donald Harrison-as; Jean Toussaint-ts; Johnny O'Neal-p; Charles Fambrough-b
Michael Philip Mossman-t; Donald Harrison-as; Marchel Ivery-ts; Johnny O'Neal-p; Charles Fambrough-b
* March 21, 1983: Jon Faddis, Terence Blanchard, Wynton Marsalis, Wallace Roney-t; Donald Harrison-as; Jean Toussaint, Branford Marsalis-ts; Robin Eubanks-tb; Donald Brown-p; Charles Fambrough-b; Ralph Peterson-d (big band)
* April 13, 1983: Freddie Hubbard-t; Benny Golson-ts; Curtis Fuller-tb; Walter Davis, Jr.-p; Buster Williams-b
July 23, 1983: Terence Blanchard-t; Donald Harrison-as; Jean Toussaint-ts; Johnny O'Neal-p; Lonnie Plaxico-b
"O'Neal, who left the band after the gig to pursue a solo career, was spelled on 'Moanin'' by incoming keyboardist Mulgrew Miller, who fit right in the groove." - Ira Gitler, Jazz Times, December 1983, p.9. [Apparently O'Neal stayed for the Japanese trip before departing.]
* September 1, 1983: Woody Shaw, Wynton Marsalis-t; Benny Golson-ts; Curtis Fuller-tb; Johnny O'Neal-p; Lonnie Plaxico-b
* September 2, 1983: Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard-t; Benny Golson-ts; Curtis Fuller-tb; Johnny O'Neal-p; Lonnie Plaxico-b
* February 2, 1984: Freddie Hubbard-t; Benny Golson-ts; Curtis Fuller-tb; Walter Davis, Jr.-p; Buster Williams-b
May 8, 1984: Terence Blanchard-t; Donald Harrison-as; Jean Toussaint-ts; Mulgrew Miller-p; Lonnie Plaxico-b
- The Jazz Messengers did not appear at the Lugano Jazz Festival, Lugano, Switzerland (July 3, 1985) [JT 7/85 p.15] - the McCoy Tyner Trio replaced them. [JT 9/85 p.10].
- The Jazz Messengers did not appear at Pendley Manor, Tring, England for the Pendley International Jazz Festival (July 6, 1985) [Wire 7/85 p.24] - the McCoy Tyner Trio replaced them. [Wire 9/85 p.12].
"The book is so large that we forget a lot of the tunes and play the same ones. But we played in Minneapolis for a week, two shows a night, and we didn't repeat one song till the last night. Not one. And I wasn't even thinking about doing that." - Terence Blanchard quoted by Richard Cook in Wire, June 1986, p.21.
* February 22, 1985: Freddie Hubbard-t; Johnny Griffin-ts; Curtis Fuller-tb; Walter Davis, Jr.-p; Reggie Workman-b
* April 1985: Bill Hardman-t; Jackie McLean-as; Benny Golson-ts; Curtis Fuller-tb; Cedar Walton-p; Reggie Workman-b
December 27, 1985: Terence Blanchard-t; Donald Harrison-as; Jean Toussaint-ts; Tim Williams-tb; Mulgrew Miller-p; Lonnie Plaxico-b
"Art's personality is real strong, so it always sounds like Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers, but I don't feel any limitation. He's open to anything. The Herbie Hancock tune 'Eye of the Hurricane', in 5/4 - we hadn't done that in a while, but when the idea came up he went for it. You listen to some of the earlier records, man, you'll hear 7/4, five over four…he's on it." - Terence Blanchard quoted by Richard Cook in Wire, June 1986, p.21.
January 11, 1986: Wallace Roney-t; Javon Jackson-ts; Benny Green-p; Peter Washington-b
March 9, 1986: Terence Blanchard-t; Donald Harrison-as; Jean Toussaint-ts; Tim Williams-tb; Donald Brown-p; Lonnie Plaxico-b
"The arrangements change from night to night. So does the mood of the band, Art's mood. It's more open. The dynamics on a tune change every night - Art might make a press roll, then a crescendo, then we all hit it, then a rim shot so we all come down…it changes. That's what's great - if you have musicians around you who are in tune to a certain concept, everything's a joy. This band is really starting to get to another level of playing music." - Terence Blanchard quoted by Richard Cook in Wire, June 1986, p.21.
* Terence Blanchard, Colin Graham-t; Philip Bent-f; Donald Harrison, Bobby Watson-as; Jean Toussaint, Courtney Pine, Steve Williamson-ts; Gail Thompson-bar; Tim Williams-tb; Mulgrew Miller-p; Lonnie Plaxico-b; Jalal Nuriddin-voc; IDJ, Mahogany-dancers
* May 11, 1986: Terence Blanchard-t; Donald Harrison-as; Jean Toussaint-ts; Tim Williams-tb; Mulgrew Miller-p; Peter Washington-b
* May 11, 1986: Wallace Roney-t; Kenny Garrett-as; Courtney Pine-ts;
* May 11, 1986: Wynton Marsalis-t; Billy Pierce-ts; Curtis Fuller-tb; Walter Davis, Jr.-p; Reggie Workman-b
* May 11, 1986: Frank Gordon, Valery Ponomarev-t (possibly also Donald Brown-p)
June 14, 1986: Terence Blanchard-t; Donald Harrison-as; Jean Toussaint-ts; Mulgrew Miller-p; Lonnie Plaxico-b
July 1986: Jon Faddis, Wallace Roney-t; Kenny Garrett-as; Jean Toussaint-ts; Tim Williams-tb; Donald Brown-p; Peter Washington-b
* August 30, 1986: Wallace Roney-t; Kenny Garrett-as; Johnny Griffin-ts; Curtis Fuller-tb; Walter Davis, Jr.-p; Charnett Moffett-b
September 8, 1986: Wallace Roney-t; Kenny Garrett-as; Jean Toussaint-ts; Tim Williams-tb; Donald Brown-p; Peter Washington-b
May 3, 1987: Philip Harper-t; Kenny Garrett-as; Javon Jackson-ts; Benny Green-p; Peter Washington-b
August 16, 1987: Wallace Roney-t; Javon Jackson-ts; Benny Green-p; Peter Washington-b
August 28, 1987: Wallace Roney-t; Bobby Watson-as; Javon Jackson-ts; Robin Eubanks-tb; Benny Green-p; Peter Washington-b; George Kawaguchi-d
* August 30, 1987: Wallace Roney, Don Sickler, Michael Philip Mossman-t; James Spaulding, Kenny Garrett, Bobby Watson-as; Billy Pierce, Ralph Bowen, Javon Jackson-ts; David Schumacher-bar; Grachan Moncur, Robin Eubanks-tb; Benny Green-p; Peter Washington-b; guests: Michele Hendricks, Dianne Reeves-voc; Stanley Jordan-g; Herbie Hancock-p; Freddie Hubbard-t; George Adams-ts
September 5, 1987: Terence Blanchard-t, Javon Jackson-ts, Robin Eubanks-tb; Benny Green-p, Peter Washington-b
* September 5, 1987: Bill Hardman, Woody Shaw-t; Benny Golson-ts; Julian Priester-tb; Walter Davis, Jr.-p; Reggie Workman-b
November 12, 1987: Philip Harper-t; Javon Jackson-ts; Robin Eubanks-tb; Benny Green-p; Peter Washington-b
* August 28, 1988: Michael Philip Mossman, Don Sickler, Roy Hargrove, Philip Harper, Terumasa Hino-t; Bobby Watson, Steve Wilson-as; Javon Jackson, Ralph Bowen-ts; Howard Johnson-bar; Robin Eubanks, Roswell Rudd, Frank Lacy-tb; Benny Green-p; Peter Washington-b; Ralph Peterson-d; Giovanni Hidalgo-cga; guests: Jackie McLean-as; Johnny Griffin, George Adams-ts; Michele Hendricks-voc
* October 31, 1988: Freddie Hubbard-t; Javon Jackson-ts; Benny Green-p; Leon Dorsey-b
November 11, 1988: Philip Harper-t; Javon Jackson-ts; Robin Eubanks-tb; Benny Green-p; Leon Dorsey-b
December 1988: Bryan Lynch-t [Cadence 3/93 p.7]
- January 1989: Blakey suffers heart attack and is in University Hospital, London [Republicca 2/1/89]
- January 30, 1989: Blakey did not appear for a scheduled performance in Bologna, Italy with Mongo Santamaria and Max Roach's percussion ensemble M'Boom [Republicca 1/28/89, 2/1/89]
February 12, 1989: Brian Lynch-t; Craig Handy, Javon Jackson-ts; Frank Lacy-tb; Benny Green-p; Essiet Essiet?-b
late April-early May, 1989: Brian Lynch-t; Terence Tony-as; Javon Jackson-ts; Frank Lacy-tb; Benny Green-p; Essiet Essiet-b
June 23, 1989: Brian Lynch-t; Donald Harrison, Terence Tony-as; Javon Jackson-ts; Frank Lacy-tb; Benny Green-p; Essiet Essiet-b
July 15, 1989: Bryan Lynch-t; Terence Tony, Vincent Herring-as; Javon Jackson, Craig Handy-ts; Frank Lacy-tb; Benny Green-p; Essiet Essiet-b; Sam Fargus
August 1989: Bryan Lynch-t; Donald Harrison-as; Javon Jackson-ts; Frank Lacy-tb; Benny Green-p; Essiet Essiet-b
"I was not going to quit the band. Peter Washington had just left the band to take other sideman gigs, and he started to tell me that I should think about getting out, too. He told me 'Benny, if you don't get Art, he'll get you.' And I heard his point, but my attitude at that time was that it had been so beneficial to play with Art, and I felt that I hadn't by any stretch of the imagination mastered the piano chair, and I was intent on staying with the band as long as I could. He used to say things like, 'This ain't the post office'; you were supposed to get in, make your statement and get out. It was only a matter of time before Art heard someone younger who would fit in with the band; that was Geoff Keezer. And I always knew that Art would fire me, before I'd quit the band. I always hoped that I'd have a chance to sit down with him and thank him for the experience. It didn't go down like that, though. I guess he had so many players in the band, and he had such a big heart, it hurt him to let people go. Like so many of my predecessors, Bobby Watson told me he found out the same way - the road manager called me and told me that on the next tour someone else was coming in. I was crushed. I was really devastated. The guy I looked up to hadn't come to me. I was rather embittered about it at the time. I later found out that it was positive. I left the band intent on going out to prove myself." - Benny Green, quoted by Martin Johnson in Down Beat, November 1993, p.23.
* August 26, 1989: Freddie Hubbard, Terence Blanchard-t; Bobby Watson-as; Billy Pierce-ts; Robin Eubanks-tb; Mulgrew Miller-p; Cameron Brown-b
* October 9, 1989: Brian Lynch, Freddie Hubbard, Terence Blanchard-t; Donald Harrison, Jackie McLean-as; Javon Jackson, Wayne Shorter, Benny Golson-ts; Frank Lacy, Curtis Fuller-tb; Geoff Keezer, Walter Davis, Jr.-p; Essiet Essiet, Buster Williams-b; Roy Haynes-d; Michele Hendricks-voc
December 29, 1989: Brian Lynch-t; Donald Harrison-as; Dale Barlow, Javon Jackson-ts, Steve Davis, Frank Lacy-tb; Geoff Keezer-p; Essiet Essiet-b
"I mean one of the greatest experiences I've had is being with Art Blakey and being around his wisdom. The man lived on the road. The first year I was with the band we did like 38, 39 weeks out of the year, which was great, I could concentrate and see Art in action." - Brian Lynch, quoted by Alwyn and Laurie Lewis in Cadence, March 1993, p.7.
February 1990: Brian Lynch-t; Javon Jackson, Dale Barlow-ts; Frank Lacy, Steve Davis-tb; Geoff Keezer-p; Essiet Essiet-b
"But he [Frank Lacy] felt freer playing with Art Blakey, with whom he spent 18 months, including some time as music director. 'The music of that era had a certain flow. There are chord changes and a certain way to play. If you've studied the history of your horn, then it just flows and you'll feel free within that vibe.'" - Frank Lacy, quoted by Martin Johnson in Down Beat, November 1993, p.14.
April 10, 1990: Brian Lynch-t; Javon Jackson, Dale Barlow-ts; Steve Davis-tb; Geoff Keezer-p; Essiet Essiet-b
"It was more than just a musical influence with Blakey, I really had a chance to experience him as a friend and as a mentor, a beautiful thing. I have pictures of him in my house of the last set he ever played in Osaka, Japan. He just couldn't get it together to play you know, he kind of said, 'Right, see you all, it's up to you now.' That's a helluva responsibility." - Brian Lynch, quoted by Alwyn and Laurie Lewis in Cadence, March 1993, p.8.
- October 2, 1990: Kenny Washington subs for Art Blakey
- October 9, 1990: Ben Riley subs for Art Blakey
"I'll play drums until Mother Nature tells me different. I'll retire when I'm six foot under." - Art Blakey, quoted by Brian Case in Wire, December 1984, p.10.
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