By Hobart Taylor | Published October 2020
Drummer Ralph Peterson, an esteemed alumni of The Jazz Messengers, marshals other Art Blakey acolytes for a run through originals contributed here by the bandleader, as well as his ensemble players.
“Forth And Back” is a minor-key, bopish call-and-response, Joanne Brackeen’s piano knitting the tune together under chunky fragments of horn-ensemble play and a tap-dancing hi-hat. “Sonora” summons a light and breezy Latin feel, while the title tune, “Onward And Upward,” swings hard.
On Jean Toussaint’s “Waltz For Etienne And Ebony,” the saxophonist pursues looping phrases that hint at a resolution listeners might suspect will never come.
Onward & Upward: Forth And Back; Sonora; Onward And Upward; Waltz For Etienne And Ebony; Red Black And Green Blues; Un Poco Haina; Sudan Blue; Portrait Of Lord Willis; Tricks Of The Trade; El Grito; Along Came Benny. (59:04)
Personnel: Ralph Peterson, drums; Craig Handy, alto saxophone; Bill Pierce, Jean Toussaint, tenor saxophone; Steve Davis, Robin Eubanks, trombone; Brian Lynch, Philip Harper, trumpet; Zaccai Curtis, Joanne Brackeen, Anthony Wonsey, piano; Essiet Essiet, Lonnie Plaxico, Peter Washington, Melissa Slocum, bass; Kevin Eubanks, guitar; Reinaldo DeJesus, percussion.