Arthur Blakey Senior—a.k.a. Abdullah ibn Buhaina, a.k.a. Bu, a.k.a. simply “Art Blakey”—would have turned 100 years old on October 11. It’s hard to overstate his impact on the jazz world. He was one of the most important drummers in history, with a raw, thunderous, cross-rhythmic style that is immediately distinct. He is even better known as a bandleader. For generations, his band the Jazz Messengers was the incubator of jazz talent, and to pass through its ranks was to attend the world’s most prestigious jazz university. (Blakey was never an educator in the formal, classroom sense, but in the de facto sense he is probably jazz’s foremost.)
This list contains 10 examples (in chronological order) of his unwavering hard-bop style, swinging tough and loaded to the gills with blues and soul. Each track was performed by a different lineup. Together they span five decades, but they all retain the character, energy, and above all the spirit of Art Blakey.