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Chris McGregor

Sea Breezes, Solo Piano Live in Durban 1987

(Fledg'ling; US: 23 Oct 2012; UK: 23 Oct 2012)

A pianist returns to South Africa.

White South African jazz musician Chris McGregor mixed black and white musical styles in his homeland during the early 1960s, a time when racial mixing of all sorts was perceived by authorities to be a serious crime. He fled to Europe and became well-known as a bandleader and composer as well as a player. He returned to his homeland in 1987, marking the occasion of this solo piano recording. The influence of Duke Ellington is clear here on these mostly melodic pieces—McGregor even does a lovely arpeggio laden, 11 minute version of “Prelude to a Kiss”—but so is the inspiration of free, improvisatory jazz. McGregor seamlessly blends together the traditional and avant-garde streams of jazz into music that stimulates the mind, rouses the body and moves the soul through its intelligence and creativity. His brilliance can be heard in short tracks, such as the self-penned title cut that defies the languid connotation of its name and jumps right out of the piano, as well as on longer tracks such as “Sweet as Honey” that come off as percussion pieces played on a piano. McGregor died relatively unknown outside of jazz circles in 1990, but this overdue release of unheard music should help widen his reputation outside the coterie of the very few.

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Steven Horowitz has a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Iowa, where he continues to teach a three-credit online course on "Rock and Roll in America". He has written for many different popular and academic publications including American Music, Paste and the Icon. Horowitz is a firm believer in Paul Goodman's neofunctional perspective on culture and that Sam Cooke was right, a change is gonna come.


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