Stylistic evolution of jazz drummer Ed Blackwell: The cultural intersection of New Orleans and West Africa.
Date of Graduation
The two primary functions of a jazz drummer are to maintain a consistent pulse and to support the soloists within the musical group. Throughout the twentieth century, jazz drummers have found creative ways to fulfill or challenge these roles. In the case of Bebop, for example, pioneers Kenny Clarke and Max Roach forged a new drumming style in the 1940's that was markedly more independent technically, as well as more lyrical in both time-keeping and soloing. The stylistic innovations of Clarke and Roach also helped foster a new attitude: the acceptance of drummers as thoughtful, sensitive musical artists. These developments paved the way for the next generation of jazz drummers, one that would further challenge conventional musical roles in the post-Hard Bop era. One of Max Roach's most faithful disciples was the New Orleans-born drummer Edward Joseph â€œBoogieâ€ Blackwell (1929â€“1992). Ed Blackwell's playing style at the beginning of his career in the late 1940's was predominantly influenced by Bebop and the drumming vocabulary of Max Roach. His musical roots, however, were extremely diverse. New Orleans parade drumming, the Blues, Big Band swing, music of the Mardi Gras Indians, Caribbean music, and Rhythm & Blues all informed his burgeoning drumming style. During his forty-year career, Blackwell performed and recorded with various artists such as John Coltrane and Ray Charles, and with musical groups including â€œOld and New Dreams,â€ and the â€œAmerican Jazz Quintet.â€ He is, however, most often associated with the Free Jazz Period and his work with Ornette Coleman. This research project will document the generative and developmental aspects of Blackwell's drumming style. Chapter 1 covers his formative years and early musical influences in New Orleans, Chapter 2 his association with Ornette Coleman and other â€œfreeâ€ jazz musicians. Chapter 3 will address the influence of traditional West-African rhythmic structures upon Blackwell's musical development. In Chapter 4, transcriptions of Blackwell's playing will show the coalescence of these varied musical influences which shaped his drumming vocabulary.
Schmalenberger, David J., "Stylistic evolution of jazz drummer Ed Blackwell: The cultural intersection of New Orleans and West Africa." (2000). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 9722.