Saxophonist Toussaint has been a vital educator on the British scene for several decades yet his ability as a composer and improviser should not be overshadowed by his achievements in the classroom. This fine album connects Toussaint to a fundamental part of his history – membership of Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers in the ‘80s – as the Buh-like assemblage of horns and rhythm section provides him with a vehicle for his original writing. With trumpeter Byron Wallen, trombonist Dennis Rollins, pianist Jason Rebello [or Andrew McCormack], and drummer Troy Miller, there is little surprise that the set of 11 originals makes for a true lesson in contemporary acoustic jazz which has been grown from deep historical roots.
Consequently, the tenets of hard bop – from swirling melodic lines to an often Afro-Cuban inflected rhythm – are given fresh impetus, with a pleasing brio in both the chordal choices and the comping. Toussaint’s soloing has the kind of measure as well as assertiveness that reflects his full artistic maturity, but first and foremost the players really gel as an ensemble, which would have surely charmed Mr. Blakey.
Jean Toussaint Allstar 6tet, Brother Raymond (Lyte Records)