Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, 1985 featuring Art Blakey on drums, Donald Harrison, alto saxophone, Terrence Blanchard, trumpet, Jean Touissant, tenor saxophone, Lonnie Plaxico, bass and Mulgrew Miller, piano
The Jazz Messengers were an influential jazz combo that existed for over thirty-five years beginning in the early 1950s as a collective and ending when long-time leader and founding drummer Art Blakey died in 1990. Blakey led or co-led the group from the outset. “Art Blakey” and “Jazz Messengers” became synonymous over the years, though Blakey did lead non-Messenger recording sessions and played as a sideman for other groups throughout his career.
The group evolved into a proving ground for young jazz talent. While veterans occasionally re-appeared in the group, by and large, each iteration of the Messengers included a lineup of new young players. Having the Messengers on one’s resume was a rite of passage in the jazz world, and conveyed immediate bona fides.
Many former members of the Jazz Messengers established careers as solo musicians, such as Lee Morgan, Benny Golson, Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Timmons, Curtis Fuller, Cedar Walton, Chuck Mangione, Keith Jarrett, Joanne Brackeen, Woody Shaw, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Terence Blanchard, Donald Harrison and Mulgrew Miller.