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...

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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.

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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.