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Javon Jackson/Billy Pierce Quintet: Burnin’

Past tenor saxophone battles such as Sonny Stitt-Gene Ammons or Dexter Gordon-Wardell Gray were born out of the rich jam session tradition of yesteryear. That system, much like the studio system in motion pictures, has largely faded to legend and been replaced by the system of jazz academia. Besides their shared Art Blakey Jazz Messengers pedigree, academia is where these two tenorists intersect, though not as fellow students, uniquely as mentor-student. Bret Primack’s concise notes make it clear that Jackson was one of Pierce’s favorite students at Berklee, perhaps making his later succession of Pierce in the Messengers pre-ordained.

This date, which is up to Criss Cross’ usual burning hard boppin’ standards, bears an amiable collegial feel, though that certainly doesn’t dampen the fireworks quotient. How could you go wrong pairing two of today’s brawniest tenor players locking horns with Kirk Lightsey’s piano, Christian McBride’s bass and Louis Hayes at the drums? Billy Pierce has his voice, Javon is evolving his out of the whole cloth of Joe Henderson’s sound and, yes Virginia, they do be swingin’.

Originally Published