Having come under the tutelage of Art Blakey (a.k.a. Buhaina, or “Bu” for short), drummer Ralph Peterson knows a thing or two about the value of mentorship. His time as a Jazz Messenger proved life-changing and he’s long been paying it forward through more formalized lines, teaching and rearing up-and-comers at one of jazz’s foremost talent incubators: the Berklee College of Music. Now, 35 years on from that moment when Blakey first brought Peterson onto the bandstand and pointed the way, the student-turned-sage is following in the master’s footsteps by taking his pupils into the real world.
This live recording in Boston—the fourth in a series showcasing different angles of Peterson’s work—serves as the debut of the GenNext Big Band. It’s an exuberant date, elevated by the leader’s fiery spirit and carried forward by some of Berklee’s finest young guns. Levels of enthusiasm run high, the material salutes the honoree’s book and being, and the presence of special guest (and fellow Blakey alum) Donald Harrison on five of the album’s nine tracks adds to the draw.