22 ene. 2011

Blakey's Bass Drum

I remember several years ago listening to something on the radio and thinking to myself. Hmm, Art Blakey on drums and Paul Chambers on bass. I have never heard that particular combination before. My next thought was that I had become a half-way decent listener. Sure, Blakey and Chambers are pretty distinctive sounds, but still...


There's a 1951 recording of Blakey with Miles Davis, with kind of bad recording quality, where Blakey's right foot really has a powerful impact, like being punched in the gut. He tuned his drums to a looser tension than most other drummers of his generation, getting a distinctive sound not as genteel as that of others. That overall sound, together with his signature crescendo press roll on the snare, give him away.


He's the drummer, too, on Monk's Blue Note recordings. He seems to have a natural affinity with Monk and Powell. I like various versions of his Messengers too, but there's something tiring about Hard Bop after a while.