One of my favorite bebop drummers are Art Blakey , most famous as the leader of the Jazz Messengers, a hard driving player who along with Max Roach and Kenny Clarke invented bebop drumming. In The 40’s he worked with Mary Lou Williams, Fletcher Henderson, and Billy Eckstine. By the late 40’s he was backing such greats as Miles Davis, Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk. His famous group started with him as co-leader along with Horace Silver, they were known as “The Art Blakey Quintet” along with Lou Donaldson, Curley Russell, and the new young trumpet sensation Clifford Brown. The February 1954 Blue Note 2 vol. set A Night In Birdland is a classic and a great place to start to collect this artist. Another classic from him and this great group is Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers with Thelonious Monk a 1957 “Atlantic” recording. Blakey recorded extensively with an ever changing lineup. He had a policy of encouraging young players and many played in his group, Wayne Shorter, Bobby Timmons, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, Hank Mobley, Kenny Dorham. and many more. He was quoted on his “Night in Birdland” album as saying “I’m gonna stay with the youngsters. When these get too old I’ll get some younger ones. Keeps the mind active.”
Round Midnight is a 1944 jazz standard with the distinction of being recorded by a jazz artist more than any other jazz composition. Thelonious Monk grew up in New York and could play anything he heard. He was influenced by the early stride Piano players. His best known composition has a definite “after hours sound“. Monks original version on The Best Of The Blue Note Years album is the most historically significant. His Himself album contains his most intimate take on the song. Thelonious Monks playing is really different. He literally turned the jazz world upside down with his sound when he came on the scene as a leader. You have to expose yourself to some of his albums.
It started at Mintons a jazz club that started in 1938 by Henry Minton. Bebop was born here, Mintons policy of holding “Jam Sessions” after hours along with his well known generosity toward musicians attracted the likes of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Christian, and Kenny Clarke whom were free to explore and workout new ideas that lead to the development of Bebop. Bebop is a fast paced style with improvisations upon the theme, based on harmonic structure instead of the melody. The 1939 recording of “Body and Soul” by Coleman Hawkins is attributed to the first time a jazz artist strayed from the melody and his double jumps in timing marked the beginning of a new way of playing. Jazz moved from Swing , a danceable style, to Bebop, music to listen to, an art form was created.