Special performance celebrating Art Blakey's 94th birthday (Oct 11)
Friday, Oct 11
The Messenger Legacy is an elite line-up of former members of one of Jazz’ most influential bands, Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. This configuration features master bassist Reggie Workman, alto saxophonist Donald Harrison, trumpeter Brian Lynch, tenor man Billy Pierce, pianist Donald Brown, and at the drums, Ralph Peterson. Their performance at Yoshi's is made even more special by the fact that it is taking place on October 11th - Art Blakey's birthday.
Arguably, no other drummer is more qualified than Peterson to lead a band with such depth. Thirty years ago, Peterson, then a fresh-faced 21 year-old was chosen to play alongside Blakey as a Messenger in the 1983 version of The Jazz Messenger two drummer Big Band and learned first hand from the master himself. Peterson remained the 2nd drummer in the Big Band until Blakey’s passing.
Reggie Workman began working with The Messengers in 1962, the year Ralph Peterson was born, and was a member of the band during what could easily be called its most innovative period. Fifty years later, Reggie Workman continues his amazing journey, producing, conducting music education workshops and touring regularly in the US and internationally. Billy Pierce, who was present the night Peterson first sat in with the band at Mikell’s, was a mainstay from the late 70’s through the early to mid 80’s. Donald Brown played with the Jazz Messengers from 1981-1982. Donald Harrison joined the Messengers around 1983, and in 1988, Brian Lynch joined what turned out to be the last edition of The Messengers before Art Blakey’s passing.
This group of musicians wishes to preserve, protect and honor the legacy of a man who was much more then a bandleader to all of them. This group has the potential of launching renewed appreciation for one of the most important institutions of apprenticeship in American music history. Said Peterson about forming the group, “Every time I play the drums it is in tribute to Art, but I wanted to do something that goes beyond me, beyond any individual. I wanted to pay tribute in a way that was authentic, genuine, and meaningful not just to a few, but to every person he touched through his music.” In an age when cover bands and tribute acts are commonplace and contrived, this proves to be the exception. “Having multiple generations of Messengers represented in this band, this is the closest you can get to the source,” said Peterson through his raspy chuckle, “This is the real deal.”