Album:What It Is?
Drummer Ed Blackwell was best known for his days with Ornette Coleman in the 60s. He was also a member of the Coleman spinoff band Old And New Dreams. Other than that, he was mostly a sideman but near the end of his life he led the Ed Blackwell Project. He was born Oct. 10, 1929 in New Orleans. Blackwell started out drumming in R & B bands in New Orleans. He first met Coleman when he moved to Los Angeles in 1951. But he moved back to New Orleans and had a trio with pianist Ellis Marsalis and clarinetist Alvin Batiste. He also toured with Ray Chatles. In 1960, Blackwell moved to New York to replace Billy Higgins in Coleman's band at a time when Coleman was blazing new trails in free jazz. He worked with Coleman through the 60s. Blackwell also worked with Eric Dolphy, Randy Weston and Archie Shepp. In the 70s he joined the faculty at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. In 1976, he formed Old And New Dreams with fellow Coleman band members Dewey Redman on sax, Charlie Haden on bass and Don Cherry on cornet. They recorded for ECM and Black Saint until 1987. Blackwell also recorded with Cherry and Mal Waldron. He finally decided to form Ed Blackwell Project in the early 90s. He signed with Enja Records. He recorded three albums. Band members were Carlos Ward on sax, Graham Haynes on cornet and Mark Helias on bass. Pettiford Bridge is from the 1992 CD What It Is? Ward wrote the song and he recorded it on one of his own albums and also on the 1990 Don Cherry album Multikulti. Blackwell also played on that album. Graham Haynes is the son of legendary drummer Roy Haynes. Despite kidney problems for many years, Blackwell continued to record and tour until his death on Oct. 7, 1992 at age 62. Here's a video for Pettiford Bridge by Ed Blackwell Project.