Art Blakey Centennial Celebration

Who better to pay tribute to the incomparable drummer Art Blakey than a multi-generational group of musicians led by members of Blakey’s Jazz Messengers? The Art Blakey Centennial Celebration includes an all-star cooperative aggregate comprised of enormously talented musicians – including a quintet of former Jazz Messengers (dates “of service” noted parenthetically): Alto saxophonist Bobby Watson (1977-1981), tenor saxophonist Bill Pierce (1980-1982), trumpeter Brian Lynch (1988-1990), Robin Eubanks (1987-1988) and bassist Essiet Okon Essiet (1989-1990). Joining them are pianist Zaccai Curtis and drummer Carl Allen, the latter with the great responsibility–and the unquestionable talent–to “channel” Blakey. Anyone who even vaguely follows and/or garnered appreciation for “Hard-Bop,” the soulful jazz sub-genre that in the mid-1950s followed on the heels of bebop, fully understands the historical significance of Drummer Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers. Blakey led the Jazz Messengers for 35 years, from 1955 to 1990, the year he died. The number of significant bandleaders-to-be that entered “The University of Blakey” in their late teens/early 20s and graduated anywhere from two to five years later, numbers close to 200. The Jazz Messengers roster spawned a litany of seminal players, among them: Donald Byrd, Terence Blanchard, Walter Davis Jr., Kenny Dorham, Curtis Fuller, Benny Golson, Benny Green, Johnny Griffin, Donald Harrison, Freddie Hubbard, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, James Williams, Donald Brown, Mulgrew Miller, Geoffrey Keezer, Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan, Woody Shaw, Wayne Shorter, Bobby Timmons, Cedar Walton, Peter Washington and Reggie Workman, to name but a few. ​ Blakey always encouraged band members to contribute material to his ensembles, naming many members “Musical Directors.”