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Ralph Peterson & The Messenger Legacy: Legacy Alive, Volume 6 at the Side Door

Mike Jurkovic By

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Recorded loud and live at the Side Door Jazz Club in Old Lyme, CT, Ralph Peterson—the last drummer to play side-by-side with the incomparable Art Blakey—delivers an unstoppable two-disc hyperdrive swing-fest celebration of his mentor with Legacy Alive, Volume 6 at the Side Door.

It's no deep state secret that Blakey, with his effortless and effusive glee, seamlessly bridged all of jazz's thrilling variants: '40's swing and blues; the nascent bop and hard bop of the '50s to the soaring, exploratory avant-garde of the '60's. Fletcher Henderson, Chick Webb and Mary Lou Williams to Thelonious Monk and McCoy Tyner, Blakey drove them all with his relentless spirit and snapping snare.

So, to mark Blakey's centennial year and his own 57th, Peterson, his rhythmic intuitions and understandings of Blakey fully engaged, presents his frothy sextet: saxophonists Bill Pierce on tenor and Bobby Watson on alto, trumpeter Brian Lynch, bassist Essiet Essiet, and pianist Geoffrey Keezer and a raucous, eleven-song set of smoking tunes long associated with Blakey and any version of his Jazz Messengers.

Peterson, Keezer, and Essiet blow the Side Door open with "A La Mode," and the momentum—fiery, free, frenetic—never lets up. Watson, himself a Blakey alum, contributes "Wheel Within A Wheel," a rolling hard-bop blazer that sets the stage for Freddie Hubbard's "The Core," a real showcase for the horns.

And the hits keep coming! Rollicking takes of "3 Blind Mice," Benny Golson's signature "Blues March" and "Along Came Betty," Wayne Shorter's fervent "Children of the Night" and a set-closing jump-romp of Duke Ellington's "Caravan" serve to prove the fact that, on any given night, in any given club with the right combo, greatness can be heard.

Track Listing: A La Mode; Wheel Within a Wheel; The Core; My One and Only Love; 3 Blind Mice; Blues March; In Case You Missed It; Along Came Betty; Children of the Night; That Old Feeling; Caravan.

Personnel: Ralph Peterson: drums; Bobby Watson: saxophone; Bill Pierce: saxophone, Brian Lynch: trumpet; Geoffrey Keezer: piano; Essiet Essiet: bass.

Title: Legacy Alive, Volume 6 at the Side Door | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Onyx Music Label

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