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.
Chris McGregor: Sea Breezes, Solo Piano Live in Durban 1987