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 Jean Toussaint

Jean Toussaint



BACKGROUND: Since Toussaint left Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in the mid eighties, He hasn’t looked back. Nor has he spent a career trying to repeat the past. The experiences gained in that world-class hothouse have enabled him to push forward and embrace challenging and often high-profile musical collaborations in many different jazz styles. Today he works out of London England as a composer, tenor/soprano saxophonist, band leader and highly regarded jazz educator.
Early Years Born in the Caribbean, Toussaint grew up in St Thomas USVI and started playing the saxophone at the Charlotte Amalie High School under the musical tutelage of Charles Cox who took a special interest in the talented youngster offering guidance and extra tuition. After high school, Toussaint attended the prestigiousBerklee College of Music in Boston along with future jazz stars Branford Marsalis, Greg Osby, Kevin Eubanks, Jeff Watts, Victor Bailey, Cindy Blackman, DonaldHarrison and many others. While at Berklee, Toussaint studied with and was mentored by the great saxophonist/educator Billy Pierce. It was Pierce who recommended Toussaint to replace him in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. Relocating to New York, he joined in 1982 and toured and recorded with the band for four years alongside Mulgrew Miller, Terence Blanchard, Donald Harrison and Lonnie Plaxico. With Art Blakey, these young men found themselves in a uniquely enviable position as,the band travelled the world playing all the major festivals, clubs and concert halls. While residing in New York and when not on the road with the messengers, Toussaint regularly led the jam session at the famous Blue Note club and would visit other New York clubs sitting in with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Elvin Jones, Bobby Hutcherson, Freddie Hubbard etc.
Next Invited to teach for three months at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Toussaint came to London in 1987 and still uses the capital as his base. In addition to his private one to one teaching, for which he has many students, Toussaint is also a member of the teaching staff at the Birmingham Conservatoire, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and occasionally the Royal Academy of Music. The bulk of Toussaint’s work is as a performer. Since moving to London he has, led his own bands and various projects, released ten CDs as a leader and guested on many more. Collaborations with musicians based in the UK have included BhekiMseleku, Julian Joseph, Jason Rebello, Cleveland Watkiss and others. Toussaint is also often invited to join tours with US musicians visiting Europe and most recently was on tour with pianist Cedar Walton and Donald Brown, trumpeter Eddie Henderson and an extensive tour of Europe the Middle East and New York’s Village Vanguard with the great Jeff Watts. The last couple of years, he has played the North Sea festival, The New Morning and Sunset jazz clubs in Paris, Montreux, ClemontFerrand, Cork and London jazz festivals and jazz clubs and concerts all over Europe.
Now Toussaint’s most recent CD is entitled “Live in Paris and London” and received four-star reviews from John Fordham at the Guardian newspaper and Selwyn Harris at Jazzwise magazine. At the present moment Toussaint is recording a new studio CD with his quartet which should hopefully be available in late 2013 or early 2014 and to commemorate the twenty-fifth year of the passing of the great Art Blakey in 2015 Toussaint is busy organising a project which he calls “Roots and Herbs” The Blakey Project which, in the spirit of Art Blakey, will introduce a band of young lions to the music of the jazz Messengers with a rotating drum chair covered by the best new and established drummers in the country.
Tenor Reference 54

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