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2019 Biamp PDX Jazz Festival Presents Double Legacy: Steve Turre and the Eulipeon All Stars Celebrate the Music of Rahsaan Roland Kirk + Ralph Peterson Jr.’s Messenger Legacy Centennial Celebration
featuring James Carter, Vincent Herring, Carl Allen, Matt Clark, and Marcus Shelby (Steve Turre and the Eulipeon All Stars) & Bobby Watson, Brian Lynch, Bill Pierce, Zaccai Curtis, and Essiet Essiet (Messenger Legacy)
February 24 | 7:00 pm- $29.50 – $39.50
The thought of Steve Turre inevitably conjures the image of a dauntless virtuoso. Over the course of a remarkable career spanning more than five decades, Turre has proved time and time again that he’s one of the foremost masters of the trombone, able to steer his challenging instrument through breakneck turns and imaginative leaps at dizzying speed. Turre was born to Mexican-American parents and grew up in the San Francisco Bay area where he absorbed daily doses of mariachi, blues and jazz. While attending Sacramento State University, he joined the Escovedo Brothers salsa band, which began his career-long involvement with the genre.
In 1972 Turre’s career picked up momentum when Ray Charles hired him to go on tour. A year later Turre’s mentor Woody Shaw brought him into Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. After his tenure with Blakey, Turre went on to work with a diverse list of musicians from the jazz, Latin, and pop worlds, including Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner, J.J. Johnson, Herbie Hancock, Lester Bowie, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Van Morrison, Pharoah Sanders, Horace Silver, Max Roach, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. The latter introduced him to the seashell as an instrument. Soon after that, while touring in Mexico City with Woody Shaw, Turre’s relatives informed him that his ancestors similarly played the shells. Since then, Turre has incorporated seashells into his diverse musical style.
On 2018’s The Very Thought Of You (available now via Smoke Sessions Records), Turre shows off a less celebrated side of his brilliant artistry: his moving, heartfelt way with a ballad. Luxuriating in timeless melodies and swathed in lush strings, Turre makes his horn sing with delicate lyricism and subtle beauty. Of course, the irrepressible trombonist can’t help but unleash his fiercely swinging side, peppering his ballad set with a few pulse-quickeners here and there alongside virtuosos Kenny Barron, Buster Williams, and Willie Jones III.
The Messenger Legacy is an elite line-up of alumni members of one of Jazz’ most influential bands, Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers.
The current configuration is Bobby Watson, Essiet Essiet, Geoff Keezer, Brian Lynch, Bill Pierce andRalph Peterson — the last drummer chosen by Art Blakey to play at his side in the Jazz Messenger 2 Drummer Big Band. Bobby Watson and Bill Pierce were present the night Peterson first sat in with the band at Mikell’s and was a mainstay from the late 70’s through the early mid 80’s. Essiet Essiet was brought to Art Blakey by recommendations of Ralph Peterson and Bobby Watrson. Geoff Keezer and Brian Lynch joined what turned out to be the last edition of The Messengers before Art Blakey’s passing.
Arguably, no other drummer is more qualified than Peterson to lead a band with such depth. Thirty years ago, Peterson, then a fresh-faced 21-year-old chosen to play by Blakey as a Messenger in the 1983 version of The Jazz Messenger two drummer Big Band and learned firsthand from Buhaina himself. Peterson remained the 2nd drummer in the Big Band until Blakey’s passing. Depending on availability other Jazz Messenger who have done and would be available would include Donald Harrison, Craig Handy, Robin Eubanks, Kuumba Frank Lacy, Phillip Harper, Johnny O’neal, Donald Brown and sometimes even Reggie Workman who joined Art in 1962 the year Peterson was born. Mr Workman also played in the inagural Messenger Legacy concert.
This group of musicians wishes to preserve, protect and honor the legacy of a man who was much more than a bandleader to all of them. This group has the potential of launching renewed appreciation for one of the most important institutions of apprenticeship in American music history. Said Peterson about forming the group, “Every time I play the drums it is in tribute to Art, but I wanted to do something that goes beyond me, beyond any individual. I wanted to pay tribute in a way that was authentic, genuine, and meaningful not just to a few, but to every person he touched through his music.” In an age when cover bands and tribute acts are commonplace and contrived, this proves to be the exception. “Having multiple generations of Messengers represented in this band, this is the closest you can get to the source,” said Peterson through his raspy chuckle, “This is the real deal.”