Guildhall Big Band celebrates Art Blakey

  • 7:30pm
Black and white image of Jean Toussaint with saxophone


About this event:

Event type:
Booking required | In-person
£15 (£5 concessions)+bkg fee
Milton Court Concert Hall

Event information

Guildhall Big Band, directed by Matt Skelton and featuring saxophone legend Jean Toussaint, pays tribute to drummer and bandleader Art Blakey in this season-closing concert.

One of the all-time jazz greats, and the driving force during the bebop era, playing with Monk, Bird, and Dizzy, Art Blakey possessed a huge amount of big band experience, having played in the groups of Fletcher Henderson, Lucky Millinder and Billy Eckstine in the forties. The Eckstine band was particularly renowned as a playground for the future bebop innovators, among them Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon and Fats Navarro.

Blakey and Horace Silver co-founded the Jazz Messengers in the 1950s, helping develop the talents of young up-and-comers: from Hank Mobley, Donald Byrd and Kenny Dorham; to Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, Benny Golson and Wayne Shorter; to Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett and Chuck Mangione; to Woody Shaw and Wynton Marsalis.

Guildhall Big Band is honoured to be working with saxophonist Jean Toussaint, a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers from 1982, for this special celebration. Jean says: “With Art I really started to learn about the music from a historically, yet highly creative, point of view. Art taught us through the music, he hardly ever verbalised what he was trying to teach. And I found this to be the most effective way to learn. We were also required to compose and arrange for the band which allowed us to hone those skills”.

Few figures in jazz left a legacy as wide and deep as Art Blakey, from his playing to his associations. Blakey left behind a list of sidemen perhaps unmatched in the jazz canon. His powerful, thunderous playing was legendary, as was his dedication to performance even during periods when jazz's popularity was waning.

Programme & Performers

Video description

Jean Toussaint performing with Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers at the 15th Internationale Jazzwoche, Burghausen (Germany), 23rd March 1984 

Venue information

Milton Court, based across the road from our Silk Street building, provides the School with world-class performance and training spaces, including a state of the art concert hall, a lyric theatre, a studio theatre and several major rehearsal rooms.

Milton Court, 1 Milton Street, London, EC2Y 9BH