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Art Blakey: Jazz Messenger, Jazz Mentor

Art Blakey counts Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard and Terence Blanchard among his Jazz Messengers alumni. And that's the short list.
Roland Godefroy
Art Blakey counts Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard and Terence Blanchard among his Jazz Messengers alumni. And that's the short list.

Ninety years ago — on Oct. 11, 1919 — one of the greatest bandleaders and drummers in jazz was born in Pittsburgh, Penn. That man was Art Blakey. For more than 30 years, from the mid-1950s until his death in 1990, he led The Jazz Messengers, a band which became a sort of graduate school and springboard for some of the greatest jazz players of all time; from Lee Morgan and Wayne Shorter to Wynton Marsalis, Bobby Watson and beyond.

In this birthday salute, we present five pieces of music that broadly suggest the arc of Blakey's phenomenal career and the number of jazz giants who performed in the great drummer's ever-changing family of blossoming jazz talent. Even though we only have room for five songs, here are the musicians you'll hear in this set with Blakey: Horace Silver, Kenny Dorham, Hank Mobley, Doug Watkins, Benny Golson, Lee Morgan, Bobby Timmons, Jymie Merritt, Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, Cedar Walton, Curtis Fuller, Reggie Workman, Wynton Marsalis, Bobby Watson, Billy Pierce, James Williams, Charles Fambrough, Terence Blanchard, Donald Harrison, Mulgrew Miller and Lonnie Plaxico. Not bad for starters, huh?

For more in the Take Five series, click here.

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Nick Morrison