FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION FOR THE 63rd GRAMMY AWARDS
RALPH PETERSON'S GENNEXT BIG BAND - LISTEN UP (ONYX)
Ralph Peterson's GenNext Big Band
Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album
WINNER OF THE 68th DOWNBEAT MAGAZINE READERS POLL FOR RISING STAR BIG BAND
Following in the Jazz Messenger tradition of mentorship, the Gen-Next Big Band features an exciting lineup of some of Berklee College of Music’s brightest young musicians and employs Blakey’s signature two-drummer format. These young Berklee students are granted the opportunity to work alongside Peterson and special guest trombonist Kuumba Frank Lacy, two Jazz Messenger alumni. Listen Up! was released on November 12, 2019 on Peterson's ONYX Productions Music Label.
Listen Up! showcases the excellence of this group of young Berklee players under the tutelage of consummate drummer Ralph Peterson, while celebrating the life and music of the legendary Art Blakey. As Peterson remarks, “…all of the arranging, with the exception of “The Art of War” and “In Case You Missed It” was done by Berklee students. They demonstrate maturity, finesse, and exuberance as arrangers.” The album embodies the spirit of the Jazz Messengers, embracing the didactic nature of Blakey’s legendary institution as a means of bringing fresh enthusiasm to the music, and perpetuating the artform. “Back in 1983,” as Peterson recollects, “Art Blakey called me to perform with the Jazz Messengers at the Boston Globe Jazz Festival. That concert was transformative in my life and now I have the opportunity to come full circle and extend that experience to these young musicians here.”
After making their professional debut at Scullers in Boston in late 2017, the Peterson-led Gen-Next Big Band released their 2018 debut album Remember Bu: Alive Vol. 4 at Scullers, a live recording of the group which featured fellow Art Blakey alum Donald Harrison. A year later, the Gen-Next Big Band embarked on their very first studio album.
Press for Listen Up!
Most of the arrangements were done by Berklee students, a testament to that school’s well-established curriculum. And while no wheels are reinvented here, they are well-oiled, easily spinning out professional-grade work. Lacy and Peterson provide the star power, but they’re pushed by the relentless enthusiasm of the younger players. Somewhere, Blakey’s roaring approval through an angelic grin."
Read the full review here.
ALL BOUT JAZZ
"Sound quality is acceptable throughout, running time a generous sixty-six minutes. In sum, another admirable recording by Peterson and his adherents who affirm once more that the future of jazz is in good hands, at least in the greater Boston area." Read the full review here.
DEE DEE MCNEIL
MUSICAL MEMOIRS'S BLOG
"Ralph Peterson’s Gen-Next Big Band is a wonderful listening experience and made me want to grab my flat shoes and a swing-dance partner, then hurry to the dance floor! Congratulations are in order to each of these young musicians who contributed to an excellent project in an entirely professional way." Read the full review here.
NEW YORK CITY JAZZ RECORD
"Mentoring the next generation of jazz musicians was one of Blakey's greatest contributions and Peterson continues that tradition on his second new release, 'Listen Up!' Read the full review here.
BOSTON CONCERT REVIEWS
“The young recording team at Power Station/Berklee NYC has done a fine job capturing this big band in all their youthful, brimming glory on this new recording." Full review here.
“When you think of Blakey, you likely think of smaller ensembles rather than a big band. Don’t let that be a barrier. As we noted, Blakey’s classic sound is here in all its glory, even bigger and brighter." Full review here.
"This is intense, challenging, sophisticated, and wholly exciting music." Full review here.
JAZZ ALBUM OF THE WEEK! “... the last couple Gen-Next albums are proof positive that Ralph Peterson, drawing on lessons from the old master, has started building something special of his own." Full review here.
"The jazz big band tradition remains niche, but continues to evolve. Drummer Ralph Peterson’s Gen-Next Big Band’s double album Listen Up!, released on the Onyx label, gives small-group modern jazz orchestral weight. Great arrangements, fresh solos and Berklee college students playing like seasoned pros." Article here.