Pianist Terry Seabrook is reinterpreting Miles Davis’s album Kind of Blue at The Capstone, discovers Paddy Hoey.
MILES DAVIS’S 1959 album Kind of Blue is one of the few genuinely genre and era-defining records that unites fans across the musical spectrum.
It is a revolutionary artistic statement that changed the landscape of modern popular music.
Pianist Terry Seabrook and his band, Milestones, are bringing the sound of Miles to Liverpool Hope University’s Capstone Theatre for a night of thrilling music. They play Kind of Blue, a number of other Davis songs, and Seabrook’s own interpretation of the great man’s music, Sketches of Miles, in a show that has been winning over audiences across Britain.
The project nearly never happened, after Seabrook rebuffed initial suggestions for him to do it.
“It was suggested to me by a promoter and, initially, I wasn’t that keen. But, I gave it go and put a band together for the Brighton Festival in 2010, and we had a lot of fun,” he says.
“Kind of Blue is a fantastic, iconic album. We put a great band together. Everyone was up for it and the results were really good. We did other Miles arrangements, as the album itself is quite short.
“I then wrote some of my own music inspired by Miles (Sketches of Miles) and with the recordings we have got quite a lot of work around the country with good audiences. It touched on a nerve.”
Recorded on the cusp of the 1960s and with a band who would become some of the legends of modern jazz, Kind of Blue transformed the genre. Trumpeter Davis was about to escape the confines of modern jazz and become one of the great experimental artists of his age. That he had virtuoso talents like pianist Bill Evans and saxophonists John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley, in the band meant it could only be extraordinary.
Davis moved away from the complexity that had been the growing trend in jazz, where soloists would have sets of rapidly changing chords to navigate. Instead he returned the focus to tunes. The subtle changes in the music and interplay between band members give the album a lightness of touch rarely equalled.
Critics of modern jazz often decry it as tuneless, likening it to the Fast Show Jazz club sketches, but what sets Kind of Blue apart is the wonderful bass and drumming of Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb, respectively. For such a sparse, reflective record, it really swings.
Seabrook says: “It’s got a unique sound and explored quite new territory, it’s almost minimalist in its perspective and there’s minimal music in each song. But it is beautifully crafted with input from a band that came from very different backgrounds.
“It is timeless. Its musical construction is modal for most of the songs and that gives it a slightly different universe to the sound of jazz at the time.
“Modal means it has a much more limited chord sequence, you might just have one or two chords for a long time. So it has less harmonic movement.
“The musicians just stay on one or two chords and improvise around the notes in the chord. It gives it a sense of space and it is not constantly shifting.“