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You Tube Gold: Art Blakey

Unquestionable genius

Art Blakey
Art Blakey, Hammersmith Odeon, London, 1968. 
Photo by National Jazz Archive/Heritage Images via Getty Images

What we know about music would fit into a thimble but we do remember what Duke Ellington said: if it sounds good, it is good.

With that in mind, check out this drum solo by Art Blakey. Keep in mind that this is from 1959, so post-Elvis but pre-Keith Moon.

We’re not judging him by the standards of rock but rather trying to give you a sense of how the concept of drum solos have changed.

This starts off and seems kind of...not simplistic certainly but not what we think of today as a drum solo which mostly relies on crashing about and making loud noise. Now it’s more about power than subtlety.

This is otherworldly good. Watch how he uses every part of the kit to build a sound that purrs then roars and how the sounds he make talk to each other.

It’s completely hypnotic. The best in a way though is when he puts down the mallets. Watch how he picks the drumsticks up. He’s in no rush. He’s in complete control of the moment. He picks them both up then casually flips the one in his left hand around to use the other end keeping rhythm all the while on the high hat. It’s not going anywhere. He’s in complete control.

It’s a genius level performance.