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JazzTimes 10: Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers

In honor of Bu’s 100th birthday, here are 10 of his best performances

8. “In Walked Bud” (Keystone 3; Concord Jazz, 1982)

Wynton and Branford Marsalis both became the darlings of the jazz world while working in the Jazz Messengers, and Blakey at last became hailed as a legendary elder statesman. The energy that those three—along with tenor saxophonist Bill Pierce, pianist Donald Brown, and bassist Charles Fambrough—bring to “In Walked Bud” on this San Francisco live date (which ranks alongside Moanin’ and Free for All among Blakey’s finest recordings) is ferocious. The swing will make your head spin; the technique, despite Branford’s overreliance on Bird licks, is top-flight. But don’t be fooled by the youth surrounding him. Blakey’s constant push on the drum kit makes it clear that he is the primary generator of this heat.

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Michael J. West

Michael J. West is a jazz journalist in Washington, D.C. In addition to his work on the national and international jazz scenes, he has been covering D.C.’s local jazz community since 2009. He is also a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader, and as such spends most days either hunkered down at a screen or inside his very big headphones. He lives in Washington with his wife and two children.