Review: Jay Phelps - Projections of Miles at Seven Arts (Leeds)

Jay Phelps Sextet. Photo Credit Roger Thomas


Jay Phelps - Projections of Miles
(Seven Arts. 20th February 2014. Second date of tour. Review by Kim Macari. Photos of the London tour date by Roger Thomas)


Selling out more than a week in advance, Leeds venue Seven Arts was filled to capacity for Jay Phelp's visit with his new project, Projections of Miles. As we have become accustomed to with Phelps and his contemporaries, the band took to the stage sharply dressed and confident, recalling the stylish musicians to whom they were paying homage.

Focusing on a musician whose career took him down many creative paths, it seemed apt that the gig featured arrangements not just by Jay but by virtually the entire band, showcasing their strong individual voices.

Thought had obviously been given as to which pieces best suited each solo voice and in fact, the entire gig managed to play to each of their strengths. It was on Jay's own arrangement of Walkin' and on Benet McLean's In The Night that the band really shone. Walkin' showcased the ensemble playing of the three-horn front line and gave altoist Logan Richardson space to build a dark, meandering solo over the energetic playing of McLean and Shane Forbes. Before playing, Jay remarked on how much the band enjoyed playing Benet McLean's arrangements and on In The Night everyone sounded at home both in the dark rubato intro and the groove which followed.

Throughout the performance, still photographs and silent video footage were projected onto a screen behind the band. The footage seemed well-considered; stills from the Birth of the Cool sessions appeared while the band played Rocker, and there were nods to the socio-political landscape which surrounded Filles De Kilimanjaro with footage of Martin Luther King Jr and the American rights revolution. Rather than the music being geared toward the visuals, the visuals gently complemented the music.

The decision to focus a project on a specific musician is always an interesting one and there is a delicate balance to be found between paying tribute and maintaining one's own creative vision. For Jay Phelps and the band, Miles Davis seemed to be the starting point rather than the destination and the sold-out crowd left the gig with smiles on their faces and Soweto's freestyle rap about Miles Davis albums ringing in their ears.

Jay Phelps. Photo Credit: Roger Thomas

Jay Phelps (trumpet)
Soweto Kinch (tenor)
Logan Richardson (alto)
Benet McLean (piano/vocals)
Tim Thornton (bass)
Shane Forbes (drums)

COMPOSITIONS

Rocker (Tim Thornton)
Walkin' (Jay Phelps)
Circle (Logan Richardson)
In The Night (Benet McLean)
Joshua (Soweto Kinch)

Filles De Kilimanjaro (Jay Phelps)
Cheryl (Tim Thornton)
Half Minded (Benet McLean)
Big Time (Soweto Kinch)

REMAINING TOUR DATES

Thursday 27th February
Terry O'Toole Theatre, Lincoln, LN6 9AX

Thursday 13th March
606 Club, London SW10 0QD

Friday 14th March
Crucible Studio, Sheffield, S1 1DA

Friday 28th March
Turner Sims, Southampton, SO17 1BJ.

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