Friday, February 7, 2014


Miles Davis and Gil Evans
Miles Davis and Gil Evans created three classic jazz albums Miles Ahead, Sketches of Spain and Porgy And Bess. Thursday evening at the Paradise Valley Jazz Series, trumpeter Terence Blanchard with an all-star band -- drummer Peter Erskine, bassist Christian McBride, and Trumpeter Sean Jones -- performed music from those albums backed by musicians from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. 

Before Blanchard started the concert, he gave some background of the Davis-Evans relationship, and the importance of the music they created together. Blanchard rushed through that bit of jazz history. It seemed he was anxious to play. 

It didn’t take long for Blanchard to excite the audience, opening with selections from Miles Ahead. The two-hour concert was billed as Miles Davis & Gil Evans: Still Ahead. At times, it felt overwrought though Blanchard and Sean Jones were brilliant.

Jones is a force on trumpet. Perhaps the top trumpeter of a generation that includes Terell Stafford, Jeremy Pelt, Corey Wilkes and Dominick Farinacci. Jones records for Mack Avenue Records, and he’s put out an outstanding body of recordings. Roots and No Need for Words are his best albums. In concert, Jones is consistently awesome.   

At the start of the opening set, Jones gave the audience a taste of how lovely he can play on New Rhumba and My Ship.  He didn’t play again until the second set.

During that set, Jones performed the music from Sketches of Spain. Jones didn’t copy Miles’s style. Neither did Blanchard. Jones reworked Saeta and Solea. It would’ve made Gil Evans proud of Jones’s handling of the music.

The only questionable part of the concert was the lack of soloing from McBride and Erskine. They were a big part of promoting the concert. Surely, their names helped ticket sells. But they didn't see a lot of action. On The Buzzard Song from Porgy and Bess, Erskine had a crowd-pleasing exchange with Blanchard. That was it.  McBride never soloed.

Jones and Blanchard carried the concert. That was good enough. It was clever featuring Blanchard during the first set and Jones the second. Blanchard was the crowd favorite. 

On the music from Porgy And Bess, he blew the polar vortex out of town. During his soloing, people yelled encouragements like at a racetrack. A man was so worked up, he demanded Blanchard replay Bess, You is my Woman Now. Blanchard blushed. Then slid into the next number.
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