Friday, November 09, 2012

Chris McGregor - Sea Breezes: Solo Piano - Live in Durban 1987 (Fledgling, 2012)

South African expat Chris McGregor left the stigma of apartheid behind to move to Europe with an extraordinary small band called The Blue Notes. He would go in to form his own record label and lead the great progressive big band The Brotherhood of Breath. This album goes in another direction entirely showing him in a solo piano setting in a small and intimate club. Echoes of Monk and Ellington reflect through the music, with the music seemingly just waiting like scaffolding for larger arrangements to hang. "Sweet As Honey" is in fact dedicated to Thelonious Monk, having been written on the day the great pianist and composer passed away. Monk's spirit is in the air here as McGregor stabs at the keyboard, working through knots of melody, hinting at stride, and bringing it all together logically. The lush ballad "Maxine" was dedicated to McGregor's wife, developing slow waves of thoughtful and intricate music. Finally, the recital ends fittingly with a lengthy performance of Duke Ellington's "Prelude To A Kiss." Working through ebbs and flows if music, and then weaving the familiar melody into the texture of the music, McGregor is able to tell a story with the music, one that works well and makes for a successful conclusion. Sea Breezes: Solo Piano Live in Durban 1987 - amazon.com

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