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A Reinvention of Art Blakey's 1959 Groundbreaking Album, 'Holiday for Skins'

Back in 1958, jazz drummer Art Blakey brought together ten percussionists, including Philly Joe Jones, to put his own spin on Afro-Caribbean rhythms. The result was Blakey's 1959 album, Holiday for Skins.

Today, the beat popularized in Holiday for Skins is reborn in Philadelphia as the drum celebration "Another Holiday for Skins,"bringing some 15 musicians to the stage to reinvent and reinterpret what was once new.

The performance features percussionist Pablo Batista, a former Pew fellow who's played for Alicia Keys, Bono, and The Philadelphia Orchestra. Pianist and composer Luke Carlos O’Reilly organized "Another Holiday for Skins" and arranged the compositions. The powerful pulse of Afro-Caribbean rhythms - Art Blakey-style - comes alive in their hands. 

Radio Script:

Meridee Duddleston: Some of the best percussionists in the world came together more than 50 years ago to record a ground-breaking album that has become a jazz staple. In Holiday for Skins, drummer Art Blakey led a fusion of African and Caribbean rhythms. Conga drums and bongos dominated the pulse, but with the drummer's special twist.

Luke Carlos O’Reilly: Art Blakey was one of the shuffle kings. You hear it a lot in Blues. It’s a type of a rhythm. It’s kind of a dance rhythm.

MD: Now jazz pianist and arranger Luke Carlos O’Reilly has spearheaded a return to that sound for the musicians on stage as "Another Holiday for Skins."

LCO: It just creates a kind of shuffle on a different level - like a Latin shuffle. You've got to hear it and you’ve got to experience it. 

MD: Percussionist Pablo Batista, a past Kimmel Center Jazz artist-in-residence, is a pacesetter among the Philadelphia-based artists filling the sound with new life.

Pablo Batista: What we’re trying to say it this, "If you’re playing a pattern with a Latin feel, this pattern would be..."

PB: But, when you play it with Art Blakey and the jazz it's MUSIC.

MD: Put the piano and conga together, add a Latin feel, and you get a taste of what some 14 musicians in "Another Holiday for Skins" bring to their inspiration.

Music: Luke Carlos O’Reilly, piano; Pablo Batista, conga

Check out "Another Holiday for Skins" and Letieres Leite & Orkestra Rumpilezz on Friday, July 31st, at 7:30 pm at TPAC/Temple Performing Arts Center, 1837 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19122. Tickets $10 in advance / $15 at the door. Order tickets here.