One of my regrets is being born too late to have caught what I think of as the golden age of jazz, back in the 40s through the 60s. But at the just finished 2014 San Jose (CA) Jazz Festival, I was taken back in time, to Columbia’s 30th Street studios, where Miles Davis recorded Kind of Blue in 1959. Local trumpeter John Worley’s band, the Mo-Chi Sextet, replicates the whole LP and does a great job of making you feel like you got to hear Davis on stage.
Performed at the Club Regent, inside the Fairmont Hotel in downtown San Jose, the 3pm show was packed and the band delivered. Playing someone else’s music can be less than interesting, but there’s something special about the mood, the atmosphere that Worley’s band can bring. Most people in the audience were aware of Kind of Blue and came to hear what most of them never have…a live performance of one of the greatest LPs ever made. Worley doesn’t just cover the song, he makes you feel like it’s an event no jazz fan should miss.
Worley doesn’t over play the notes, just as Miles wouldn’t. Kristen Strom is a wonderfully lyrical player and Todd Dickow can blow sheets of sounds, much like Coltrane. The strong rhythm section of Murray Low (piano), Ken Okada (bass) and longhaired Wally Schnalle were rock solid.
I brought my Canon still and video cameras, plus two Tascam audio recorders, a DR40 (front of stage mics) and DR07mkII (bass). My previous live recordings didn’t have a dedicated bass mic, so this time I think you’ll find Okada’s standup to be pretty solid. Tod Dickow was the farthest from my DR40 and sounds a little distant, as is Murray Low’s piano. Still, I’m quite happy with the recording. Check out Freddie Freeloader, courtesy of John Worley’s band!
If Kind of Blue interests you, check out my recent post on Ashley Kahn’s book about the making of the 1959 record. There are more vids of John Worley (from a 2013 performance) at the end of that post, too! Worley’s site is here.