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Jean Toussaint

The stageposts along Toussaint's career have all made their mark - the Caribbean, New York, and London. From a calypso band in his teens in St Thomas, Toussaint moved to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music where fellow students included Branford Marsalis, Greg Osby, and Jeff Watts.

In 1982, he joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. 'I learned more in four years with Art than I'd have learned in ten had I not got through that audition,' says Toussaint, who played alongside Mulgrew Miller, Terence Blanchard, Donald Harrison and Lonnie Plaxico. While in New York, Toussaint also worked with Wynton Marsalis, McCoy Tyner and Gil Evans, and regularly led the jam session at New York's Blue Note club. Touring with the Messengers, he always looked forward to London where he made friends amongst the capital's young musicians. 'I met Cleveland and Trevor Watkiss, Steve Williamson and Julian Joseph. Being of Caribbean descent myself, I saw similarities in the blend of musical influences - jazz, African, calypso and reggae.

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