February 5, 2020 by Jim Woodford
Thanks to artist and jazz musician Cliff Darrett, I was lucky enough to learn about an upcoming performance by an Art Blakey tribute combo at UD. The things you can learn over a casual conversation, during the break, at the Sunday Night Jazz jam at Jazz Central. Thank you Cliff!
University of Dayton Artslive program sponsored Carl Allen’s Art Blakey Tribute Concert, 2-5-20, in honor of the Centennial of Blakey’s birth. Allen was accompanied by former Jazz Messengers Peter Washington on bass and Geoffrey Keezer on piano, plus JD Allen on tenor sax and Jeremy Pelt on trumpet; Allen of course playing the part of Art Blakey, “ I always wanted to be a Jazz Messenger but Art Blakey had the gig.”
The combo kicked off the night with Down Under by Freddie Hubbard [this song from the album Mosaic, 1960] and went right into Sweet & Sour by Wayne shorter [this song from the album Caravan, 1962]. Following some crowd interaction and musician introductions the group then introduced a Rodgers & Hart tune entitled Blue Moon [this song from the album Three Blind Mice, 1962]. This featured trumpet player Jeremy Pelt. The song that caught my ear the most was the next song, Pensativa written by Clare Fischer. This song was first introduced on a Bosa Nova recording by a quintet led by Dayton native Bud Shank and composer Clare Fischer in 1962. Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers included the song on their album entitled Free for All in 1964.
Next up was a tune entitled Arabia, written by Curtis Fuller [this song also from the album Mosaic, 1960]. The unique aspect of this tune was that it began with an extensive bass solo by Peter Washington and once other members of the combo had added their own interpretations of the song, also ended with an extensive bass solo. Peter Washington appears on numerous Jazz Messenger recordings including Feeling Good from 1986. Geoffrey Keezer appears on the final two recordings by Art Blakey entitled Chippin’ in and One for All from 1990. The combo finally gave the crowd what they were waiting for when they eased into the Blakey classic, Moanin’ written by Cedar Walton. For those of you familiar with this song you know that it has some memorable keyboard fingering, particularly the ending notations. At this point the band got up as if they were finished, I think I can say, much to the surprise of the packed house in attendance but then came back out for an encore because they “knew one more tune.” It was a song composed by Carl Allen’s Mother’s favorite composer in the world; Carl Allen……entitled The Sacrifice, which he dedicated to all musicians, musician parents and the packed house in attendance since we had braved a monsoon downpour to get to the concert. It was a fitting ending to the night. Thanks to UD professor and jazz drummer extraordinaire, Jim Leslie for suggesting his friend Carl Allen for an Artslive concert!