Lost Jazz Shrines Art Blakey & Jazz Messengers


Past Events 2014-15


Lost Jazz Shrines:
Remembering Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers at Mikell’s Jazz Club

Musical Director – Bob Watson

Friday, May 19, 2017

This presentation will be an evening remembering the legendary Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers as well as the great jazz venue, Mikell’s.  Art Blakey, often called the father of hard bop and his Jazz Messengers were an influential jazz combo that existed for over thirty-five years beginning in the early 1950s. Mikell’s was a regular venue for New York’s top studio and session musicians, who would turn up for jam sessions with major soul, funk and jazz artists visiting the city during the 70s & 80s.  Bobby Watson joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, and eventually become the musical director for the group. The Lost Jazz Shrines series is dedicated to bringing legendary NYC jazz clubs back into the consciousness of the world with a thorough remembrance and celebration. Scheduled to perform:

Brian Lynch (trumpet)
Javon Jackson (tenor saxophone)
Bobby Watson (alto saxophone)
Johnny O’Neal (piano)
Essiet Okon Essiet (bass)
*Winard Harper (drums)

*Winard Harper replaces Ralph Peterson. Performers Subject to change.

Additionally – 7PM Free Panel Discussion – Bobby Watson (Musical Director) and Willard Jenkins (Artistic Director of Jazz Programming) on the legacy of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.

Art Blakey / The Jazz Messengers

Art Blakey’s recordings, insight, and passion for his craft were his gift to the myriad of people around the world who were moved and inspired by his music. As he used to say, “To pass through life and miss this music is to miss out on one of the best things about living.”

Art Blakey, also known as “Buhaina” or “Bu,” was often called the father of hard bop. He was responsible for producing and developing more jazz talent than any other band leader of his era. As ex-Jazz Messenger, Terrance Blanchard said, “No one has brought more to jazz than Art Blakey”. During his career, which spanned more than 6 decades, Art Blakey’s band, The Jazz Messengers, was considered the quintessential forum for musicians who wished to hone their talent and leave their own mark on the jazz scene. For this reason, The Jazz Messengers also became known as the Blakey School of Music.

The Jazz Messengers were an influential jazz combo that existed for over thirty-five years beginning in the early 1950s as a collective, and ending when long-time leader and founding drummer Art Blakey died in 1990.

Mikell’s Jazz Club

Mikell’s was a jazz club on the corner of 97th Street and Columbus Avenue, New York City. Run by Mike Mikell  and Pat Mikell, from 1969 to 1991 it was a regular venue for New York’s top studio and session musicians, who would turn up for jam sessions with major soul, funk and jazz artists visiting the city. In early 1980, the club served for rehearsals for Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers Big Band, which included Wynton Marsalis, and which would result in the live album Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers Big Band – Live at Montreux and North Sea (1980). Mikell’s closed in 1991. At a tribute to the club in 2004, Paul Shaffer called Mikell’s “soul heaven.”

Bobby Watson

After graduating from the University of Miami in 1975, Bobby Watson moved to New York City and joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, which served as the ultimate postgraduate school for ambitious young players. He performed with the Jazz Messengers from 1977 to 1981, eventually becoming the musical director for the group. Watson became a sought after musician, working along the way with a number of distinguished and stylistically varied vocalists. Later Watson started the first edition of Horizon, an acoustic quintet modeled after the Jazz Messengers but with its own slightly more modern twist. A resident of New York for most of his professional life, Watson served as a member of the adjunct faculty and taught saxophone privately at William Paterson University and the Manhattan School of Music.