The Joshua Breakstone Trio – Children Of Art – A Tribute To Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers – Capri Records 74151-2 55:04****
( Joshua Breakstone – guitar, Eliot Zigmund – drums; Martin Wind – bass)
From the very first iteration of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers in the 1950s, the band became the epitome of the musical style known as “hard bop”. Additionally, it also was the proving ground for a seemingly endless supply of top notch jazz musicians who went on to have stellar careers in their own right. Some of those names are: Jackie McLean, Hank Mobley, Benny Golson, Lee Morgan, Walter Davis Jr.,Curtis Fuller, Horace Silver, Cedar Walton, Wayne Shorter, Wynton Marsalis and Keith Jarrett among others.
In this centenary of Art Blakey’s birth, bop oriented guitarist Joshua Breakstone along with drummer Eliot Zigmund and bassist Martin Wind have pulled together a tribute to the Messengers with a selection of tunes written by former members of the band under the title Children Of Art.
The guitar may seem to be an unlikely instrument for compositions that were played by a powerhouse hard bop band, but Breakstone and his cohorts pull it off with panache starting with the Lee Morgan tune “The Witch Doctor”. Breakstone is a guitarist of artful proficiency and with his rigorous touch, he brings a store of musical information at his fingertips thereby exploring the number to its fullest extent.
Breakstone’s collaborators in this recital are drummer Eliot Zigmund who spent several years with pianist Bill Evans, and bassist Martin Wind who has been the go to guy for many artists such as pianist Bill Mays, singer Ann Hampton Callaway, and organist Larry Goldings just to mention a few. Each of them has a terrific understanding of the material and can bring it to life in this small group setting.
A good example of this coordination takes place Cedar Walton’s “Holy Land”. One of Walton’s most popular original compositions, it was written as a minor blues that is much more than the usual 12 bar blues format. The group uses the number’s harmonic coloration upon which Breakstone bases his improvisation, while Zigmund and Wind provide their authoritative support.
Horace Silver’s composition “Lonely Woman” is an evocative ballad, with a nifty three bar bridge. Breakstone fills the number with sensitivity and sophistication, that brings out the luminous beauty of the interpretation.
In the mid 1950s, when Benny Golson was with the Earl Bostic Band, that travelled in and around the Boston area. There was a jazz club in Boston called The Stables where Golson hung out after hours. He was looking for a name for an unusual tune he had written and came up with “Stablemates”. Moving in and out of major and minor keys, the construct of the number was 14 bars, followed by an 8 bar bridge and then a further 14 bars. Breakstone and his cohorts are full measure for this structure as well as offering some playful exchanges between Breakstone and drummer Zigmund.
The final number is the title track “Children Of Art” written by the guitarist Joshua Breakstone. It is an introspective piece done in a refined yet soulful style during which bassist Wind offers a thoughtful solo that is both elegant and curious.
The Witch Doctor
Children Of Art