The Beat Beginner
Songs Beats & Fills Technique Rudiments Drummers Gear

We Broke Down Art Blakey’s 3 Most Celebrated Grooves

Brandon Toews  /  Aug 19, 2022

Art Blakey was a legendary drummer who, in the 40s and 50s, was a pioneer in modern bebop drumming. He played with jazz greats like Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonius Monk and recorded over 70 albums with his band, Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers.

Known for his bold swing style, showmanship and total independence on the kit, his drumming inspired thousands of players in the 20th century and beyond.

In this video – filmed on the exact type of drums Art Blakey used in the ’60s – Brandon Toews breaks down some of his most famous drum grooves and explains why he was one of the most in-demand jazz drummers of his time.

1. “Caravan”


This Afro-Cuban groove, often called the nanigo, has a cool pattern on the ride bell. Keep that quarter note pulse going with your hi-hat foot!

2. “A Night In Tunisia”


This one uses double strokes between the floor tom and rack tom, a Mozambique bell pattern, and feet alternating through the groove. Art Blakey used to play “A Night In Tunisia” at an insane tempo: around 290 BPM. In this video, Brandon keeps it “chill” at 280.

3. “Moanin'”


It’s the original jazz shuffle! While you maintain a standard jazz pattern on the ride, you’ll create a shuffle feel by alternating ghost notes on the snare with backbeats on 2 and 4.

If you enjoyed this lesson, check out full note-for-note transcriptions of these songs (plus 1000s of other songs and lessons) in the Drumeo members area.

Brandon Toews is an author, educator, and performer based out of Vancouver, Canada. Brandon is the author of The Drummer's Toolbox, co-author of The Best Beginner Drum Book, and the Content Director at Musora, home to the award-winning online music education platforms Drumeo, Pianote, Guitareo and Singeo.

Improve your speed on the drums with El Estepario Siberiano’s FREE course.
Enter your email to get all 10 exercises sent to your inbox.

By signing up you’ll also receive our ongoing free lessons and special offers. Don’t worry, we value your privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time.