Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"What It Is?"...

It would not be an overstatement to say that Ed Blackwell is one of the most influential drummers in the history of jazz. He played with many of the important players from the 1960's onward, including Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Eric Dolphy, Mal Waldron, Anthony Braxton and Marion Brown (to name a few). But he never achieved the notoriety that several of the more flamboyant drummers earned (think: Art Blakey, Max Roach or Elvin Jones), despite being every bit as central to the development of the jazz after Bebop as those cited above.

I think it is important to remember that Blackwell was born in New Orleans because his style, it seems, was informed by the marching band ethos that originated in that city in the late 1800's to well into the twentieth century. His approach to drumming has been described as unpolished, rigid and, even at times, heavy-handed but that might be a bit hasty.

This post (and the next one) offers up Ed Blackwell's band performing live at Yoshi's in Oakland, California on the night of August 8, 1992. The two recordings were released on the Enja record label in 1993 and 1994 respectively. Blackwell's band includes Graham Haynes (son of drummer Roy Haynes) on cornet, Carlos Ward (most closely associated with Abdullah Ibrahim's band) on alto sax and flute, and (the ubiquitous) bassist Mark Helias. The band is billed as the Ed Blackwell Project and the first recording is titled Ed Blackwell Project Vol.1 "What It Is?" and the second is called Ed Blackwell Project Vol.2 "What It Be Like?".

Ed Blackwell died less that two months later on October 7, 1992.


No comments:

Post a Comment