THE JAZZ MESSENGERS LEGACY BAND – The “Messenger from Russia” Valery Ponomarev, longest-serving trumpeter in the history of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, honors his late friend and employer by organizing a top-flight group of former Messengers to play the infectiously life-affirming repertoire of this immortal band. This is the only band officially sanctioned by the Blakey Estate to use the name “Jazz Messengers.”

Anchored by drummer Victor Jones, a close friend of Blakey’s, the lineup of ex-Messengers who will play in the Legacy Band includes saxophonist Don Braden, trombonist Robin Eubanks, and bassist Lonnie Plaxico, and rounding out the sextet is Japanese pianist Mamiko Watanabe, a longtime member of Valery’s Our Father Who Art Blakey Big Band.  

Hire this band and hear them play classic Messengers tunes like Along Came Betty, Free For All, Ping Pong, Witch Doctor, and many more. As Blakey said, “Once a Messenger, always a Messenger,” so you know they’ll bring that Messengers energy. If you heard the Messengers with Blakey, then relive those halcyon days. If not, this is as close as you can get. Contact me to see a clip of their inaugural gig at Dizzy’s in summer 2023.


DOUG CARN & his WEST COAST ORGAN BAND – Doug came to fame in the 70s with a series of recordings for the Black Jazz label with his then wife Jean Carne, then took up residence in Florida where he worked steadily but mostly off of the national stage. Now he’s back with Free For All, featuring a soulful, high-energy band that knocked me out, with Doug on the B-3, the contrasting tenor saxophone stylings of Teodross Avery and Howard Wiley, and Dezron Claiborne on drums. This is a perfect festival band – as visitors to the 2019 Monterey Jazz Festival heard.