“If you feel like tapping your feet, tap your feet. If you feel like clapping your hands, clap your hands. And if you feel like taking off your shoes, take off your shoes. We are here to have a ball.”
The Luna Collective is a Boston based quintet dedicated to preserving and performing the music of Art Blakey’s many Jazz Messengers. The band initially formed through a weekly jam session, aptly named Luna Sessions, led by drummer Michelle Tucker at The Luna Theater. As each week passed Michelle sought to bring a more organized sound to the house band, featuring the ensemble as much as the soloist, a sound he knew from years spent listening to the Art Blakey school of hard bop.
The Luna Collective began to grow and take shape as the band featured specific composers and recordings at Luna Sessions. During the fall of 2017 the band performed nights of music by Horace Silver, Hank Mobley, Benny Golson and Freddie Hubbard as well as classic recordings like Art Blakey’s “A Night at Birdland” (Ladies and gentleman…), Hank Mobley’s “Soul Station” and even Philly Joe Jones’ lesser known Halloween themed “Blues For Dracula”, Jones’ first effort as a leader which features Messengers Johnny Griffin and Julian Priester.
In addition to their growing book of Messengers’ music The Luna Collective has one recording of original tunes released in November of 2017 with plans to release a second in the fall of 2018. Each member of the band plays and composes a wide range of music outside of The Collective, the original music brought to the the band is arranged and played with an ear to The Messengers sound. The Luna Collective EP was released for “Giving Tuesday” after Thanksgiving 2017 as a benefit for The Lowell Boys & Girls Club Music Clubhouse, the recording collects four tunes written by Tucker and features members of The Collective Mike Caudill on Tenor, Chris Brown on Guitar and Sven Larson on Bass.
Art Blakey was an educator and his band, The Jazz Messengers, an institution. More than 200 musicians passed through the band over the course of six decades, many went on to lead bands that would make significant marks on the jazz world. During the house set Tucker guides the audience through the set list, sharing stories about the musicians that composed and performed this music and information about the original recordings as well as personal anecdotes about his and the bands’ relationship to the music. Tucker and The Luna Collective hosted several regular jam sessions in the Boston area, encouraging younger musicians to get on the bandstand to try things out, as Blakey would say, “I don’t hire no stars—they come in and have a chance to develop their art.” This work will continue post-covid.