Ed Blackwell

Ed Blackwell, October 10, 1929 – Oct 7, 1992 was an American free jazz drummer. He was born in New Orleans. Although his album credits list him as “Ed Blackwell”, he prefers to be called Edward. His closest associates, including his wife, referred to him as “Blackwell” most times. Blackwell began his career in New Orleans in 1950s. Blackwell was a member of a bebop quintet, which included clarinetist Alvin Batiste and pianist Ellis Marsalis. Ray Charles also visited briefly. Blackwell’s style of drumming was greatly influenced by the New Orleans second line parade music. This can be heard throughout his career. Blackwell was first known for his work with Ornette Coleman’s quartet in 1960 when he replaced Billy Higgins at the Five Spot in New York City. Blackwell is recognized as one of the greatest innovators in free jazz, fusing New Orleans rhythms with African rhythms with bebop. Blackwell recorded and toured extensively in the 70’s and 1980’s with Charlie Haden, Don Cherry, and Dewey Redman, Ornette Quartet veterans. Blackwell, who was an Artist-in Residence at Wesleyan University in Middletown CT, became a beloved figure on campus until his death. Blackwell and his drumming students used to greet one another by calling out “What is it like?” The other would respond “What is it?” The Ed Blackwell Project’s members were Mark Helias (bass), Carlos Ward (alto sax/flute) and Graham Haynes, cornett. Haynes is the son of Roy Haynes, drummer. Blackwell, who had suffered from kidney disease for years, died in 1992. Inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1992, Blackwell died. Text contributed by users is available under Creative Commons By–SA License. It may also be available under GNU FDL.

Leave a Comment