Amongst the many disciples of drummer Buddy Rich comes this Minnesotan, who didn't really wander that far from the ice storms of his homeland to as a member of Stan Kenton's Hollywood-based big band. The bandleader hired the drummer while on a midwest tour, an event documented on an album entitled At Holiday Ballroom Chicago 1962. Kenton preferred his players well-schooled, and this drummer was just that, having completed studies at the Minneapolis MacPhail School of Music and having been brought up in a musical family that readily prepared him for any academic challenge.
Blakkestad was having his name mispronounced as a member of school combos and dance bands through the '40s.
In the following decade, the drummer was involved with bandleader Bob Davis, appearing on several sides cut for labels such as Zephyr. Davis got into the studio in 1957, the year before Blakkestad left his group. The Davis sides and some live Kenton shows from 1962 seem to comprise the Blakkestad recording legacy. From this material a fascination with sound is clearly evident above and beyond the necessity of keeping time. The drummer's love of Rich's solos, organized as if an epic tale of adventure and not a musical event, also extended to the the solo improvisations of Art Blakey.