The June edition of the Dunedin Jazz Club features Wellington trumpeter Geoff Culverwell and an all-star band performing Miles’ Davis “Kind of Blue” - the best selling jazz album of all time and arguably one of the most important. For this special concert, pianist and club director Bill Martin has assembled a band with some of the best players in New Zealand to perform this legendary album, including Gwyn Reynolds (tenor), Nick Cornish (alto), Michael Storey (double bass) and Carl Woodward (drums).
“Kind of Blue” was recorded in 1959 at Columbia Records 30th Street studios in New York City. Prior to making this recording, Miles Davis was well known for his work as a sideman with Charlie Parker during the bebop era and a string of subsequent records on the Prestige Label as a band leader, which chronicled his encyclopedic knowledge of jazz standards. Having signed to CBS records in 1955, Miles began to explore muted trumpet sounds in his album "Round Midnight" and modal jazz made its first appearance on "Milestones" (1958), albeit in the context of the fast “hard-bop” rhythms typical of the era.
The appearance of “Kind of Blue” represents a landmark in modern jazz, as Davis created a new modal approach to jazz. Rather than playing through a series of rapidly changing chords, modal jazz opened up new possibilities for improvisation, as soloists were encouraged to create extended melodies based on individual scales or modes. On “Kind of Blue”, Miles wrote five original compositions with slower tempos and simplified chord progressions (often based on the blues) which enabled the all star players in his band to develop their own personalities, free of the conventional restraints of Bebop.
In addition to his collaboration with Bill Evans on this record - which may have served as the creative nucleus for the concept of the record - Miles assembled the greatest musicians in jazz at the time, including John Coltrane on tenor, Julian “Cannonball” Adderley on alto, Evans on piano, Paul Chambers on double bass and Jimmy Cobb on drums. The results were stunning. Based on simple outlines or “leadsheets”, the musicians created an extended sonic landscape that would go down as the most important recording in the history of jazz.
For this concert, the Geoff Culverwell Sextet will perform the entire “Kind of Blue” album in the first set, before exploring a range of Davis’ repertoire prior to 1959. Tunes such as “Seven Steps to Heaven”, “Four” and “Tune-Up” will demonstrate the contrast between the fast paced arrangements of Bebop and Hardbop and the modal approach to jazz.
Note: The Dunedin Jazz Club is a licensed music venue that has a cash bar. Patrons are encouraged to wear masks when purchasing drinks or when seated. Patrons may need to show identification when purchasing drinks.
Saturday, June 18
Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue: A Tribute
7:15 Doors Open
7:45 Set One (Kind of Blue)
9:00 Set Two (Miles Davis’ Repertoire)
Geoff Culverwell is a legend of New Zealand Jazz, having played regularly with the original 1860 Big Band in Wellington and performing as a lead soloist in Roger Fox’s Big Band at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1980. During the 1980s he worked as a session musician in Wellington and was the “go to” trumpet for film and television work. Geoff has made numerous recordings as a band leader and performs regularly in Wellington with luminaries such as Paul Dyne, Nick Granvillle, Duncan Haynes and others. He is currently touring a “Miles and Chet” show around the country, which features the music of Miles Davis and Chet Baker.