Bassist John Brown, director of jazz studies at Duke University in Durham, N.C., has assembled a crew of capable sidemen in alto saxophonist Brian Miller, trumpeter Ray Codrington, pianist Gabe Evens and the New Orleans drummer Adonis Rose in this heartfelt tribute to Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Miller is a soloistic standout on spirited renditions of Duke Ellington’s “Caravan,” Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night in Tunisia” and Chuck Mangione’s infectious, calypso-flavored “Buttercorn Lady,” written by the trumpeter when he was a member of the 1966 edition of the Messengers (which also included Keith Jarrett on piano and Reggie Workman on bass). Trumpeter Codrington takes his time and delivers an emotional reading of Gigi Gryce’s gorgeous ballad “Hello” (from the 1954 edition of the Messengers). Brown’s woody bass tones are resounding and full of soulful authority on Bobby Timmons’ gospel-tinged Messengers anthem “Moanin'” and Ray Brown’s “Buhaina, Buhaina,” a relaxed walking-bass showcase that allows for some potent expression by all the soloists. Brown also provides a formidable loping groove and a brilliant bass solo on a sprightly rendition of Horace Silver’s “The Preacher.”
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