Art Blakey Remembers…

Art Blakey

“Well, he [Buddy DeFranco] had a hell of a rhythm section. He had Curley Russell and Gene Wright and Kenny Drew and myself. We had a ball back there, we didn’t care what he did, just set fire to it. But he was a fine person, something else. He turned down a lot of opportunities because of us. Everything wasn’t roses back then. They’d expect Buddy DeFranco to come in with an all White band. He’d show up with us and some places we’d come in the Midwest, Idaho, we get our reservations and come in to check in and we say, ‘What do you mean there’s no room, we have reservations.’ They’d say, ‘Naw, we got a football game today, your rooms are all gone.’ Buddy would say, ‘What! Football in August?’ (laughter). He’d come in and raise hell; he’s a hell of a man.” – Art Blakey, Cadence, July 1981

“When I saw Clifford Brown, I said, ‘Well, Jesus, I need a trumpet player,’ so Charlie Parker said, ‘When you get to Philadelphia and play in the Blue Note on Ridge Avenue, your trumpet player will be there.’ I said, ‘Who was it?’ He said, ‘Don’t worry about that, you just …uh…and he will be.’ And we get there and in the dressing room somebody’s back there blowing. This guy had a stocking cap on, suspenders, and blowing his horn, warming up. He sounds beautiful. So Ike Quebec was with me at the time. He said, ‘Man, why don’t you tell me you’re getting a farmer to play trumpet.’ (laughter) I say, ‘Well, I don’t know, Bird tells me…’ He said, ‘Man, Jesus Christ, man, plus he ain’t nothin’ but a kid.’ And he (Clifford Brown) had a very high voice and was very sweet. So I said, ‘Well, come on, we’re going to hit.’ He (Brown) came out and played the first chorus of it and after he played the first chorus, Ike turned around and cussed me out, ‘Dirty so-and-so, how come you didn’t tell me the kid could play like that?’ (laughter) That’s what happened. He upset everybody. You don’t know where they’re coming from.” – Art Blakey,Cadence, July 1981, pp.8-9.
“That’s how I met Clifford Brown. I told Bird I’m going to Philadelphia, and I’ve got to have a trumpet player. He said ‘I got a trumpet player for you, you go to the gig and he’ll be there. He lives down in Wilmington.’ I trusted Bird. I went to Philly and there was Clifford in the dressing room. I’d never seen him before or heard anything about him in my life. He sure surprised the hell out of me.” – Art Blakey, quoted by Herb Nolan in Down Beat, November 1979, p.21.
“Charlie Parker hired Clifford Brown. He just told me that this was my new trumpet player, and he told Clifford he wanted him to work with me. When I got to Philadelphia, Clifford was in the dressing room waiting for me. That’s the way Bird did everything, that’s how much respect he commanded from everybody. Clifford played with me about a year. He’d gotten so damn popular so damn fast that after we made an appearance at Birdland, that was it: he went out on his own with Max Roach. But I sure had a ball while he was there.” – Art Blakey, Down Beat March 25, 1976, p.15.
[Rouge Lounge, Detroit, MI (July 1955) [db 9/7/55 p.12] [“appearing here for the first time in 12 years”]
Blue Bird Inn, Detroit, MI (Summer 1958) [db 7/10/58 p.42]

January 1977 “Valery Ponomarev joined the band last January.” – Leonard Feather, L.A. Times 10/30/77 p.78
Ann Arbor Jazz Festival, Ann Arbor, MI (September 24, 1978)


“I never did believe in separatism. Don’t forget that as far back as 1965 I had Chuck Mangione and Keith Jarrett in the band. The 1960’s were a difficult time for everybody to get along together, because the black consciousness thing was very strong, and instead of just playing the music, some cats were using the bandstand for a political rostrum. That hurt. It had nothing to do with our musical objectives. Most of those guys didn’t even vote. All we’re supposed to do, I feel, is try to make people happy.” – Art Blakey, quoted by Leonard Feather in L.A. Times, October 30, 1977, p.78.
“And these musicians were black. And they couldn’t keep time. And they couldn’t play. They couldn’t play the blues. I had to get a white trumpet player to play the blues! At least Chuck Mangione come in here and play the blues. He tried to play the blues, do everything he possibly could. You know? And these kids standin’ around trying to put these guys down. Oh, they put Keith Jarrett down in my band, Chuck Mangione. When they heard the band, I said, come on, you want to sit in? They didn’t dare. Not one of them. They didn’t dare. I knew exactly what I was doing. When I needed a trumpet player, I called Dizzy. Dizzy said, ‘I got it. Chuck Mangione.’ Sent him right to me. And that was a blessing, ’cause I didn’t have any. Couldn’t find none nowhere. And this is what was happening. Oh, there probably were some down in the south or out west, but I didn’t hear anyone here in New York. Regardless of what they doing out there, if you ain’t in New York you in trouble. You know what I mean, you don’t want no musician coming out from Chicago coming in unless he’s an exception. But he’s got to be in New York. That’s what I tell all the musicians when I meet them. Get to New York. Get there. Go there and stay. Exchange ideas.” – Art Blakey, Jazz Magazine, Winter 1979, p.48.
“It was really a misfit. The reason why things were so terribly unbalanced there was because we had Keith, who was a very accomplished musician and there were other musicians in the band who were growing. Sometimes a man has so much talent he would get bored waiting for the rest of the cats to catch up. And Keith could play other instruments too and he knew what the saxophone player was doing wrong, what the trumpet player was doing wrong. He was in the band because of me, because he liked me. But it’s like a kid in school, put him in the wrong class and he gets bored.” – Art Blakey, Cadence, July 1981, p.9.
“At the time, the management of that band was a complete shambles, but there were other things, all through that period, like nearly crashing on a drive out to the West Coast. It was one of the most nervewracking trips anybody has ever taken; Chuck got out of the car in Oklahoma and took a plane the rest of the way. At any rate, I decided to leave and our last job was in Boston. I had met Charles Lloyd there earlier. […] Now, when I decided I was leaving Art’s group, I looked at the club’s schedule and Charles was coming in the following week, so off the top of my head I called him up. He had already asked Steve Kuhn but somehow he got out of that or Steve had to do something else.” – Keith Jarrett, quoted by Bob Palmer in Down Beat, October 24, 1974 p.16.
[Jarrett was performing with Charles Lloyd as early as February 16, 1966 (TV broadcast)]
c. Spring 1966: Chuck Mangione-t; Frank Mitchell-ts; Mike Nock-p; Reggie Johnson-b