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Jean Toussaint: Live At The Jazz Cafe 091218

Chris May By

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Most times, the transatlantic flow of jazz musicians is from east to west. Less frequently, as with Jean Toussaint's relocation from New York to London, it is contrariwise. Hot from four years as a member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Toussaint arrived in Britain in 1987. He soon established himself as a bandleader, and also as teacher. One of his first pupils was Ingrid Laubrock. In 2008, Laubrock made the reverse journey, setting up home in Brooklyn. She is sorely missed. You cannot have it both ways.

Live At The Jazz Café 091218 is a recording of a gig Toussaint gave in London in the last few weeks of 2018. The New Year was coming and the event packed a holiday-season vibe with Toussaint's post-Messengers, present-tense hard bop in fierce form.

The sleeve credit should really read Jean Toussaint And His Allstar 6tet, because there are seven musicians present. The lineup spans two generations of London players, from emerging woke jazz bassist Daniel Casimir, through Empirical drummer Shaney Forbes and pianist Andrew McCormack, and on to Toussaint, trumpeter Byron Wallen and trombonist Dennis Rollins. Solid ensemble players and top-drawer soloists all.

The set list includes three tracks from Toussaint's album Brother Raymond (Lyte Records, 2018), plus Wallen's "The Gatekeeper," Casimir's "The Missing Of Sleep," Toussaint's Caribbean-flavoured "Mandingo Brass" (co-written with pianist Jason Rebello) and—as a closer—onetime Messenger the late Bobby Timmons' gospel-drenched "Moanin," which sent the Jazz Café audience out into the night on an ecstatic high.

Sound quality is immaculate and Live At The Jazz Café 091218 works not only as a memento of a great evening but also as a stand-alone album.

Track Listing: CD1: Amabo (I Shall Love); The Gatekeeper; Doc; Major Changes. CD2: The Missing Of Sleep; Mandingo Brass; Moanin.

Personnel: Jean Toussaint: tenor saxophone; Byron Wallen: trumpet; Dennis Rollins: trombone; Andrew McCormack: piano; Daniel Casimir: bass; Shaney Forbes: drums; Williams Cumberbache Perez: percussion.

Title: Live At The Jazz Cafe 091218 | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Lyte Records

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