Ed Blackwell
October 10, 1929 – October 7, 1992
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© Downbeat.com






Ed Blackwell...
One of the greatest pioneers of free drumming in company with Sonny Murray and Milford Graves. Ed Blackwell's main body of work remains within the group context Ornette Coleman's Quartet and Don Cherry's units. Born in New Orleans, his drum concept fitted perfectly the needs of the new collective music-indeed, traditional New Orleans march rhythms combined with an African and Afro-Cuban influence in his work. A master craftsman, his preoccupation with shifting metres and sonics made him the ideal partner for Ornette, although it was Blackwell's student, Billy Higgins, who cut the first albums with the alto player.

The nature of Ornette's music, the rapid shifts of tempo, the mobile textures, the rock swing, placed immense responsibilities on the drummer. It was a highly specialized function, and Blackwell, unlike Higgins a looser, less asymmetrical player, doesn't seem to have worked much outside the free school. The leader's wish that rhythm should as naturally as patterns of breathing set enormous problems for this group, particularly on the level of avoiding collision. Blackwell's style is simpler, less cluttered than most of the drummers'; a tight snare sound dominates, propelling the rolling tattoo figures and often echoing the alto phrases. It is concentrated palying that deftly avoids the equally innovative use of rhythm by bassists like Charlie Haden, Scott La Faro or Jimmy Garrison.

Blackwell's solo feature on T & T (Ornette!) shows the close links between rhythm and melody in the new music, as well as the drummer's African learnings. Comparison's between Blackwell and Higgins can be drawn from their paired solos (Free Jazz and Twins) with the former's heart of darkness drum rolls followed by Higgins' flaring cymbal work.

Again, the drummer's work with Ornette's trumpeter, Don Cherry, is pivotal. The music constantly changes direction and requires a rare blend of self-effacement and initiative (Complete Communion, Symphony For Improvisors) and Where Is Brooklyn . Cherry's composition for a large group (Relatively Suite) features Blackwell on March Of The Hobbits . The interaction between trumpeter and drummer is most clearly shown on the two albums made for the deleted French Label BYG (Mu, Parts One & Two) a duo that never sounds remotely restricted in textural range.

--

Ed Blackwell (October 10, 1929 – October 7, 1992) was an American free jazz drummer born in New Orleans, Louisiana, known for his extensive work with Ornette Coleman.

Blackwell's early career began in New Orleans in the 1950s. He played in a bebop quintet that included pianist Ellis Marsalis and clarinetist Alvin Batiste. There was also a brief stint touring with Ray Charles. The second line parade music of New Orleans greatly influenced Blackwell's drumming style and could be heard in his playing throughout his career.

Blackwell first came to national attention as the drummer with Ornette Coleman's quartet around 1960, when he took over for Billy Higgins in the quartet's legendary stand at the Five Spot in New York City. He is known as one of the great innovators of the free jazz of the 1960s, fusing New Orleans and African rhythms with bebop.

In the 70's and 80's Blackwell toured and recorded extensively with fellow Ornette Quartet veterans Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, and Dewey Redman in the quartet Old and New Dreams.

In the late 70's Blackwell became an Artist-in-Residence at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. Blackwell was a beloved figure on the Wesleyan Campus until he died.

"The Ed Blackwell Project" members were Mark Helias, bass, Carlos Ward, alto sax/flute, and Graham Haynes (son of drummer Roy Haynes), cornett.

After years of kidney problems, Blackwell died in 1992. The following year he was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame.
Source: jazzreview.com












Ed Blackwell and Charlie Haden (Ornette Coleman Group)



Last show from the Master Drummer ! 5 Stars it's minimum and with "What Would Be Like" it gives the complete picture from 2 future classics- Listen !









Ed Blackwell - Don Cherry
© Ray Avery






Ed Blackwell - Don Cherry






© Jan Persson



Ed Blackwell - Nana Vasconcelos















performed with:

Don Cherry
John Coltrane
Ornette Coleman
Charlie Haden
Eric Dolphy
Mal Waldron
Dewey Redman
Richard Davis
Booker Little
Karl Berger
Reggie Workman
Nesuhi Ertegun
Terence Blanchard
Old and New Dreams
Mark Helias
Scott LaFaro
Carlos Ward
Billy Higgins
Freddie Hubbard
Rudy Van Gelder
Ray Anderson
Terence Blanchard
Anthony Braxton
Jay Hoggard
David Murray
Yoko Ono
David Shea
Archie Shepp
Charlie Haden
Albert Heath

....and many more































Ed Blackwell - Dewey Redman - Cameron Brown




Blackwell, one of the giants of modern jazz percussion, brought his band to the Eddie Moore Festival in 1992 and left this record of the performance. The CD is a treat, not only for fans of Blackwell, but for fans of modern jazz.

"What It Be Like?" reflects Blackwell's eclectic approach to drumming. There is no solid, "in-the-pocket" adherence to the beat here. Rather, Blackwell builds shifting rhythms behind his men, allowing them the freedom to explore their instruments. On the band's rendition of Monk's "First Love," for example, Blackwell implies the beat, but he pushes his brushes around unpredictably behind cornetist Graham Haynes, allowing the horn to shift tempos frequently during the course of the solo. The result is a satisfying solo that is lyrical, with ballad-like qualities, but it rigorously avoids sweetness.

Longtime associate Don Cherry joins the band for one extended cut, "Lito, Parts 1, 2 and 3," which is another highlight of the album. Altoist Carlos Ward and trumpeter Cherry begin the piece with a mournful cry that evokes a spiritual. Behind them, Blackwell rattles the cymbals, thumps the tom-toms, then kicks off the piece with a little riff that reminds us of his melodicism. From that point the piece moves excitingly through 27 minutes of extended solos, group playing and changing tempos, all orchestrated by Blackwell, who animatedly comments, tapping cowbells, rattling his snare, whispering his brushes.

Blackwell is a true leader of the Project, and listening to him alone on the CD is worth the price of admission. Haynes and Ward (who doubles on flute) are fine young players, Cherry's appearance is a treat, and Mark Helias's bass holds firm throughout. I never missed a piano because Blackwell's percussion moves the proceedings with a true "freedom in the groove."

Blackwell's contributions to the modern jazz movement have been undeservedly overlooked. He was a key part of Ornette Coleman's experiments and he was integral to the famous Eric Dolphy/Booker Little collaborations at the Five Spot. This CD shows that he was no mere sideman, but a giant of jazz in his own right.








Ed Blackwell by Carole Hand