THE MESSENGER LEGACY
The Messenger Legacy is an elite line-up of former members of one of Jazz’ most influential bands, Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. There are various configuration of this group based on availability which could include bassist Reggie Workman or Essiet Essiet, alto saxophonist Bobby Watson or Donald Harrison, trumpeter Brian Lynch, tenor sax Billy Pierce or Craig Handy, Trombonist Robin Eubanks pianist Donald Brown or Benny Green, and at the drums, Ralph Peterson.
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 chosen to play by 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 it’s most innovative period. Over fifty years,
Reggie Workman continues his amazing Jazz journey, producing, conducting music education workshops and touring regularly in the US and internationally. Bill Pierce was present the night Peterson first sat in with the band at Mikell’s and was a mainstay from the late 70’s through the early mid 80’s. Donald Brown played with the Jazz Messengers from 1981-1982. Donald Harrison joined the Messenger around 1983. 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.”