Other Players

Art Blakey - Gretsch Player


Could have put this under Drums but I think this section has more coverage. This man was an amazing player and a Gretsch player -


My Dad took me to see Art when I was 15.

He blew me away.

After the show, he gave me some advice about playing while we all had a beer. Really nice guy.


I saw Art and the Jazz Messengers at the Village Vanguard in 1982 with Branford Marsalis.


Some great stuff w Grant Green on Guitar.


Art playing with his band. Enjoying the set is my mum's cousin, Bobby Orr...


...then Art let him play.


And in the last few years of his career, he was legally deaf. What a badass!

Wicked shuffle and also, his buzz roll was just ridiculous. He played like he meant it.


...then Art let him play.

– ade

Bobby Orr is so crisp and swinging on Joe Harriott ,Movement LP. Is that Hank Mobley on Tenor in the pic ?


Bobby Orr is so crisp and swinging on Joe Harriott ,Movement LP. Is that Hank Mobley on Tenor in the pic ?

– kidgretsch

I really don't know who is on sax in that photo.

I've never met Bobby Orr. My mum remembers him coming to family gatherings in the 50's where he seemed impossibly dashing in fitted American clothes. He played at a high level at that time, drumming in the Val Parnell Orchestra for the Saturday Night at the London Palladium TV show, etc.

Listening to the Joe Harriott record (and doesn't it sound wonderful in stereo?) one feature of his drumming is immediately noticeable- his snare is cranked up really tight so his buzz rolls pop out with effortless authority. He started out in a Scottish marching band, initially on trumpet but moved to side drum after busting his lip. That crisp rat-a-tat punctuation is extant in his snare work.

That's about as much as I know about the man. I believe those photos I posted earlier were taken in New York, around 1957.


Yes its Hank on Tenor ,he was in the Messengers at that point. Bobby Orr also played w Benny Goodman and on BG Today record he plays a Turkish March with sticks on his teeth !


The great trumpter, Woody Shaw played with Art for a while and he told us that when they toured Japan, one of the presenters or jazz societies (can't remember which) present Art with a carving of a tree. The trunk was Art's face and on the ends of the branches were carved the faces of all the great musicians that had come up through his bands. What a fantastic way to show respect and illustrate the tradition.

Register Sign in to join the conversation