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Live From New York

April 2010

By Published: April 10, 2010
This year's annual Prez Fest at St. Peter's Church celebrated the legacy of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers with a full day of festivities (Mar 12th) that began with a panel discussion of the iconic drummer's "enduring influence," a drum clinic by Blakey protégé Ralph Peterson and a show by former Messenger Valery Ponomarev's 18-piece big band "Our Father Who Art Blakey," all preceding the main event—a Jazz Messenger Concert featuring several ensembles comprised of more than a dozen alumni of the illustrious group. Starting off with a well-played set by the students of Charles Tolliver's New School Art Blakey/Jazz Messenger Repertory Ensemble, the ongoing importance of the legendary band's hard-driving style in shaping today's jazz was clearly evident. The powerful dedication to the imperative of swing that Blakey instilled in all of his bandmembers was on display the rest of the evening as a revolving cast of now-established players honored the man to whom they were all indebted. The lineup, which included Joanne Brackeen, Cameron Brown, George Cables, Curtis Fuller, Billy Harper, Eddie Henderson, Javon Jackson, Frank Lacy, Lonnie Plaxico, David Schnitter, Reggie Workman and Tolliver, was a fitting testament to Blakey's skill as a talent scout and teacher. With Yoron Israel, Winard Harper, Charli Persip and Andrew Cyrille all sitting in the hot seat Blakey once occupied, the groups played with a fire worthy of the man himself.

Freddie Redd
Freddie Redd
Freddie Redd

Dizzy's Club

New York City

March 1, 2010

Few jazz artists have achieved legendary status on the basis of a single endeavor to the degree that Freddie Redd has for his Music From The Connection. Sadly, the pianist's Blue Note album (with Jackie McLean) of his excellent score for the cutting edge '60s play depicting junkie jazz musicians, while remaining a prized collector's item, has never brought Redd the steady recognition as a player and a composer that his work rightfully deserves. A classic bebop pianist, melding the styles of Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell, Redd's playing is nonetheless distinctive in its appealing lyricism, as is his writing; which is why his performance at Dizzy's Club (Mar. 1st) proved to be so refreshing. Leading a young quintet with the melodically attuned frontline of Chris Bryars and Brad Linde on alto and tenor saxophones, respectively, and bassist Ari Roland and drummer Stefan Schatz rounding out the rhythm section, the 81-year-old pianist showed that he still has much music to offer. Hearing the medium tempo "Blues For Betsy" opener and the AfroCuban flavored "Olé" that followed, one could immediately identify Redd as a thoughtful composer whose work is much more than the standard substitutions on common chord progressions that too often passes for original writing. His improvisation on "I'll Remember April" confirmed his originality as well, virtually creating a new melody for the familiar song. Finishing the set with three more of his own pieces, it was clear that Redd is poised to return.

—Russ Musto

Recommended New Listening:

Amir ElSaffar & Hafez Modirzadeh—Radif Suite (Pi)

Tom Harrell—Roman Nights (HighNote)

Ryan Keberle—Heavy Dreaming (Alternate Side)

Sam Newsome—Blue Soliloquy (Solo Works for Soprano Saxophone) (s/r)

Thomas Savy—French Suite (Plus Loin Music)

Samuel Torres—Yaoundé (Blue Conga)

—David Adler NY@Night Columnist,

Junior Mance Quintet—Out South (Jun Glo)

Allison Miller—Boom Tic Boom (Foxhaven)

New York Art Quartet—Old Stuff (Cuneiform)

Sam Newsome—Blue Soliloquy (Solo Works for Soprano Saxophone) (s/r)

Marc Pompe—Hi-Fly (with Jodie Christian) (s/r)

Dan Weiss—Timshel (Sunnyside)

—Laurence Donohue-Greene Managing Editor, AllAboutJazz-New York

Doubt—Never Pet a Burning Dog (MoonJune)

Dave Liebman Group—Turnaround : The Music of Ornette Coleman (Jazzwerkstatt)

Nicolas Masson—Thirty Six Ghosts (Clean Feed)

Mike Reed's People, Places & Things—Stories and Negotiations (482 Music)

ROVA/Nels Cline Singers—The Celestial Septet (New World)

Frank Vignola—100 Years of Django (Azica)

—Andrey Henkin Editorial Director, AllAboutJazz-New York

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