Ed Blackwell

Ed Blackwell made his reputation as a member of Ornette Coleman's band in the early '60s; without that association, one wonders whether he would be considered one of the great jazz percussionists. That's to take nothing away from his considerable ability, but Blackwell's unfashionably arcane and somewhat unpolished approach to playing time was perhaps too melodic, too subtle to attract attention independently, especially amidst the heavy-handed Art Blakey/Elvin Jones Zeitgeist that prevailed throughout much of his career. The multiplicity of musics to be heard in Blackwell's hometown of New Orleans played an unmistakable role in his peculiar evolution, yet what separated Blackwell from other modern jazz drummers was his personal interpretation of swing.