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Miles to Go Before You Sleep

Miles to Go Before You Sleep

Some of the best jazz shows I’ve seen are the one’s where musicians play together for the first time, out of respect for each other and the music they’re playing.  Last night at Jazz at the Bistro, East St. Louis raised Russell Gunn saluted Miles Davis’ legendary stint at San Francisco’s famed Blackhawk Club with legendary drummer and Miles Davis alumni Jimmy Cobb, who performed the original run with Davis in 1961.

Whether it was the incredibly tight playing, the lack of much talk from the stage or the band’s blind eye to the audience, it was quintessential Miles.  If you never heard Miles live, don’t miss this.

From the opening note, Gunn pays tribute to Miles and made it clear that he and his band really understand Miles.  With Jimmy Cobb on the drum set, I was just 15 feet away from the man who created that legendary sound with the great Miles.

Gunn is a virtuoso on trumpet, playing fast and clear, and while going off on his Miles-like improvisational tangents, he stays close and true to Cobb’s rhythm.   Why mess with a maestro?

The 19 year-old alto sax player, James Robertson, played his heart out and each time when he finished his solo he would stand in awe of the band, bopping his head, dancing and moving his fingers as if he wanted to play the entire song not just his part.  His distinctive playing, cool demeanor, classic good looks, dark suit, white shirt and tie, reminded me of Coltrane.

Louis Heriveaux on piano had flawless breakout solos, but I kept wishing he would runaway with his noteworthy Oscar Peterson style of play.  Heriveaux, Kevin Smith on bass and Cobb were a great trio who could have played on their own, but together with Robertson and Gunn, brought the crowd of the sold-out performance to their feet.

You don’t need to know much about -- or even like -- Miles to truly enjoy this performance.  From Gunn on trumpet, Robertson on sax, and the 88 year old Cobb on drums, go to see this band because I can assure you, you will never hear or see them again.

Tickets are still available for Thursday thru Saturday evening (Nov. 16-18) at Jazz St. Louis, by calling the box office at 314-571-6000 or emailing boxoffice@jazzstl.org.

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