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Friday, December 11, 2009

Celebrating Miles Davis's 'Kind of Blue' at Ellington's Jazz Club

Last night I went to the Ellington Jazz Club to hear a tribute night to the classic Miles Davis album, Kind of Blue - 50 years old this year.
Here's a word from their pre-concert advertising: Explosive saxophonist Carl Mackey assembled an all-star line-up to pay tribute to arguably the most definitive album in Jazz. It has been fifty tears since legendary trumpeter Miles Davis recorded Kind Of Blue in 1959 abandoning his earlier forays in hard-bop to explore pure modalism. It is cited by many music critics not only as Davis's best-selling album, but as the best-selling jazz record of all time, being certified quadruple platinum last year. Miles Davis – trumpet (Ricki Malet), Cannonball Adderley – alto saxophone (Carl Mackey), John Coltrane – tenor saxophone (Jamie Oehlers), Wynton Kelly/Bill Evans - piano (Graham Wood), Paul Chambers – bass (Nick Abbey), Jimmy Cobb/Philly Jones – drums (Ben Vanderwal).

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They played through the entire tracks for the first set - a generous helping. But I don't want you to think they were mimicking the original solos: they played as them selves, just in the order of the album. For example, the percussion was much more upfront many times, as is the want these days compared to half a century ago. And, by the end of the night (in the second half, they played all the Milestones tracks, their individual originality shone through. The club was absolutely crowded, wall to wall, for the first half, but, mysteriously, a third of the audience left at half time. Well, they missed a cooking last set where the guys seem to leave the reverence behind and play to their own heart's content. I respected the first half, and loved to hear such mellow tracks live, but for me the excitement lay in the second half, the Milestones tracks, where each muso seemed to push themselves more.

It is incredibly good value at Ellington's as well: just $15 at a table, with full table service - and fine coffee. I'll leave the bar assessment to others, but we received all the efficient and smiling service we needed. A great night of live jazz, paying due homage to my alltime favourite jazzman.

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