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September 25, 2007

New York Jazz at the Yardbird Suite

Written by
cindy mcleod

jazz concerts, Canada

Jackson Green Project at the Yardbird this Saturday

A powerhouse of New York jazz comes to Edmonton this coming weekend, when saxophonist Javon Jackson and pianist Benny Green take to the stage at the Yardbird Suite on September 29th. The two are leading jazz musicians of their generation who also happen to be alumnus of drummer Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, working with the great master in the late 1980’s. For the Jackson Green Project, they’re joined by special guest and legendary drummer, Al Foster, along with bassist Corcoran Holt.

Pianist Benny Green starting playing professionally as a teen, working with Eddie Henderson and a 12-piece group led by Chuck Israels. Moving to New York in 1982, he did a short stint with Bobby Watson before joining Betty Carter for five years. He then became a member of Art Blakey’s band (1987-89), followed by his work with Freddie Hubbard’s quintet. In 1993 Oscar Peterson chose Benny as the first recipient of the City of Toronto’s Glenn Gould International Protégé Prize in Music. That same year he replaced Gene Harris in Ray Brown’s Trio, working with the veteran bass player until 1997, when he resumed his freelance career, leading his own trios, and performing solo. Green’s discography numbers over a hundred sessions as sideman, including Betty Carter, Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers, Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Watson, Milt Jackson, Diana Krall and Ray Brown, among the many. In 1997, Green recorded with Oscar Peterson Oscar & Benny (Toshiba- Funky). As leader he’s released two albums for Criss Cross, Prelude (1988) and In This Direction (1989), before moving to Blue Note for Lineage (1990), Greens (1991), Testifiyin’ (1992), That’s Right! (1993), The Place To Be (1994), Kaleidoscope (1997), and These Are Soulful Days (1999). His Telarc Jazz debut Naturally (2000), featured bassist Christian McBride and guitarist Russell Malone, while Green’s Blues (2002), featured a solo collection of jazz standards by Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Erroll Garner and George Gershwin, among them.

Tenor saxophonist Javon Jackson began working professionally in local jazz clubs at age 16, playing with former Max Roach Quintet pianist Billy Wallace. After sitting in one night at a New York City club with the legendary Blakey’s Messengers, Javon’s skill on the tenor earned him an invitation to join the group. Performing alongside Terence Blanchard, Kenny Garrett, Wallace Roney and Benny Green, Javon appeared on several recordings with Blakey, including Not Yet (Soul Note), One For All (A&M) and Chippin’ In (Timeless). He remained with the Messengers for over three years until Blakey’s death in 1990. Jackson earned his degree from Berklee while continuing to tour with Hubbard, Elvin Jones, Charlie Haden and Cedar Walton. He made his debut as leader in 1991, when he released Burnin’ and Me and Mr. Jones (Criss Cross), followed by Easy Does It (2003) with drummer Lenny White, guitarist Mark Whitfield, trombonist Fred Wesley, and organist Lonnie Smith. Currently he tours extensively with his group, the Javon Jackson Band (Benny Green – piano, Jeff Chambers – bass, Carl Allen -drums), and the Javon Jackson Superband (featuring Jimmy Cobb). Jackson also performs as guest with various artists including Curtis Fuller and Donald Byrd.

Master drummer Al Foster has been a major innovator in the world of jazz for several decades. As a member of the Miles Davis band for thirteen years, Foster’s contribution to Davis’ music is articulated by Davis himself in his 1989 autobiography, Miles: The Autobiography, where Davis describes the first time he heard Foster play live in 1972 at the Cellar Club on 95th Street in Manhattan: “He [Foster] knocked me out because he had such a groove and he would just lay it right in there. That was the kind of thing I was looking for. I could set it up for everybody else to play off and just keep the groove going forever.” Foster has toured extensively with Herbie Hancock, Sonny Rollins, and Joe Henderson, and has performed and recorded with such greats as Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, McCoy Tyner, Wayne Shorter, Bobby Hutcherson, John Scofield, Pat Metheny, Charlie Haden, Randy & Michael Brecker, Bill Evans (pianist), George Benson, Kenny Drew, Carmen McRae, Stan Getz, Toots Thielemans, Dexter Gordon and Chick Corea.

Saturday, September 29
Jackson Green Project (New York)
with special guest Al Foster
Benny Green (piano), Javon Jackson (saxophone), Corcoran Holt (bass), Al Foster (drums)
Yardbird Suite, Edmonton

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