The Art Blakey Festival kicks off with a reunion of elite alumni from Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, led by Ralph Peterson—the only drummer ever to play in the band alongside the drum maestro himself.
A quintessential jazz band for nearly 40 years, the Jazz Messengers remained vital thanks to a constant influx of top up-and-coming talent—all hand-picked and mentored by Blakey—including every musician featured in this show.
Blakey’s reputation for hiring "only the best” provided his young players with experience, exposure, and life-changing apprenticeship, and you’ll witness the fruits of that labor tonight in saxophonists Bill Pierce and Bobby Watson, trumpeter Brian Lynch, pianist Geoffrey Keezer, bassist Essiet Essiet, and drummer Ralph Peterson.
The show is hosted by renowned actor, singer, educator, and documentary host Avery Brooks. He’ll help shed light on the larger-than-life personality that was Art Blakey, one of the most storied individuals in jazz.