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Lincoln Center Celebrates Blakey

Art Blakey (pictured) had his own view about what jazz was for: “When people come in to relax and enjoy themselves after a hard day’s work, it’s my job to make them happy to wash away the dust of everyday life. That’s what jazz music is all about.” Recalling the spirit and hard-swinging music of the legendary drummer, Jazz at Lincoln Center will launch their 12th season, entitled “The Year of the Drum,” in September with three New York City events dedicated to Blakey.

The first event, “Jazz Talk: Tales of the Big Bu,” will take place Sept. 18 and will feature several of Blakey’s past musical companions sharing memories of the drummer. (“Bu” refers to the name Blakey adopted after a trip to Africa in the late ’40s: Abdullah Ibn Buhaina). Among the musicians on the panel are trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, pianist James Williams, saxophonists Bobby Watson and Bill Pierce, bassist Charles Fambrough, trombonist Curtis Fuller, and trumpeter Valery Ponomarev, all of who are Jazz Messengers alumni. The event will take place at the Stanley H. Kaplan Playhouse, in the Rose Building at 165 West 65th St., 10th floor Tickets are $20.

The series continues Sept. 20 and 21 with the a Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra performance: “The Big Beat-The Music of Art Blakey.” Named after a 1960 Blakey album on Blue Note, The Big Beat, the concert will feature the orchestra performing tunes from Blakey’s songbook and will include appearances by alumni of the Jazz Messengers. Among the guest musicians will be Watson, Fuller, Williams, Pierce and drummer Ralph Peterson. Several new arrangements will be written for the concert, to be held at Alice Tully Hall, 65th and Broadway. Tickets for the event are $60 and $55.

The final segment of the tribute will be held as part of the Lincoln Center “Jazz for Young People” series. “Who is Art Blakey?” will take place on Sat., Sept. 20 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. in Alice Tully Hall. Marsalis will host the program, which will include musical performances, anecdotes about Blakey, as well as a question and answer session. Tickets for the event are $10 for ages 18 and under, $15 for adults.

Tickets for all events can be purchased at the Alice Tully Hall Box Office, by calling CenterCharge at 212-721-6500, or at

Originally Published