Listening to this sextet, brought to St. George’s by pianist and leader Terry Seabrook, play quite possibly the most widely known repertoire in all of modern jazz -Miles Davies’ Kind of Blue in the order it appears on the album – was always going to be a slightly different sort of jazz gig. They played it split across a break with mainly Seabrook’s Miles inspired compositions before and after the Milesian material. I wasn’t quite prepared for just how familiar the music was. Every phrase, every harmony was like a well loved friend. At one point, Terry Seabrook actually played Wynton Kelly’s solo on Freddie Freeloader rather than improvise. This was doubly spooky as its a solo I, like a number of piano obsessd friends, have transcribed and learnt so that every miniscule departure by Terry from Wynton’s feel or emphasis was immediately audible. But there’s a reason this album is loved, and not just by self-confessed jazz obsessives: it is fantastic music and quintessential jazz of a timeless quality. That coupled with some fabulous soloists in the band (Alan Barnes, Byron Wallen, Ian Price) meant I departed with a warm glow. The standout moments for me were where the band seemed to bring themselves to the music and not just recreate the sound of Mile’s 1959 band. Alan Barnes’ baritone solo on Boplicity (one of the pre-Kind of Blue tasters in the set) seemed a distilled version of the apparent ease with which he creates excitement and freshness with flurries of notes and flowing lines whilst staying within the stylistic sound of this era’s music. He is a master. The whole band made Flamenco Sketches breath and sigh, but especially Byron Wallen: an anthem for today as well as 1959. A welcome pre-Christmas warmer at St. Georges then with a healthy turn out to appreciate it.
Terry Seabrook’s Milestones, Kind of Blue, St. George’s Bristol, Thursday 15th December