Sunday 27 September 2009

Terry Seabrook Trio, St Peter's Church, Brighton

St Peter's is a 12th Century chapel near Preston Park. Now disused, it's kept open by The Churches Conservation Trust and, on Saturday. played host to the Terry Seabrook Trio. It was a treat to hear Terry, perhaps best know for his Cubana Bop band, play such intimate music in such a sympathetic setting.

The band was in the classic piano-trio style of pianists such as Ahmad Jamal, Bill Evans and Chick Corea and the choice of repertoire was drawn straight from that tradition. Bill Evans' Waltz for Debbie, his version of I Should Care and tunes by Ray Bryant and Cedar Walton. The second set was particularly strong with notable highlights being Terry's unaccompanied version of Chick Corea's Armando's Rhumba and Nardis, which featured unaccompanied solo sections from each member of the band.

Terry got better as the evening progressed, the and warmed up (it was quite cold in the church) and the interplay increased. Spike Wells played beautifully throughout. It's difficult playing drums in a church - it can sound as though the kit is being thrown down the stairs. Spike had muted the kit and cymbals with tape, and they sounded great. He did an outstanding free form solo on Nardis which, to my ears, sounded straight from the brink of a revolutionary 1968. Paul Whitten's bass playing was understated and very tasteful, often starting his solos by playing the melody.

There are certainly pros and cons to playing in churches. I once saw Jim Hall playing in a church in Islington. He was supported by Martin Drew's hard bop band, which sounded dreadful - cymbals exploding, the snare drum ricocheting off the walls. Jim came on, the audience went silent and he just started playing with the guitar turned down. You could hear a pin drop. I sometimes feel that jazz audiences have become too reverential in clubs - so many great recordings of people like Bill Evans (at the Village Vanguard) and Duke Ellington (at the Blue Note, Chicago) have audience noise without spoiling the music. If you're going to have intimate, reflective music and a quiet, listening audience, a church is the obvious place for it.

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