Pub jazz on a Monday night. I’d anticipated a few middle-aged men sipping their pints and nodding sagely, but instead The Snowdrop Inn was packed with drinkers, diners and a couple of dancers. They were enjoying the syncopated stylings of Quinto, a trio with Terry Seabrook playing keyboards, Tristan Banks on drums and the irrepressible Raul D’Olivera taking care of trumpet, vocals and some extra percussion.
What's so special about this type of music? "It goes back to Dizzy Gillespie, who played with Charlie Parker", explained Terry. "They sort-of founded 'bebop' in the 1940s. Dizzy Gillespie also developed something that's become known as 'cubop', which is Cuban/bebop fusion jazz. It’s very rhythmic, it's great fun to play and of course it's great to dance to."
Terry Seabrook has been organising weekly jazz sessions at The Snowdrop for the past four years, which means he's been there almost as long as owners Tony Leonard and Dominic McCarten. Born in London, he didn’t consider a musical career until he moved to Brighton. "I went to the University of Sussex to study science in the late 70s but found myself playing music all the time so I switched course". As part of his new curriculum he spent a year in New York where he gained a "jazz education" at the acclaimed Eastman School of Music. "When I came back and finished my music degree, I became a piano tuner and got into professional playing quite slowly. Along the way I've had a lot of good breaks. I started working with a great American jazz singer called Joe Lee Wilson and we did US State Department tours. We went to Iraq before the Americans fell out with Saddam, and we went to Romania just before Ceausescu fell. He had a theory that we were covers for spy operations!"
Terry's talents have also seen him composing for television programmes and TV commercials, although these days he's spending more time teaching and playing. There's his work with Quinto - "I've worked with these guys for years" - there's a six-piece Latin group named Cubana Bop currently touring the UK, plus there's a tribute to Miles Davis called Milestones. "We play the music from Kind of Blue, which is the iconic jazz album of all time, and we also do original music inspired by Miles Davis."
Much like the jazz he plays, Terry has no time for standing still. His Monday nights at The Snowdrop are attracting bigger and bigger names. "The last year we've started having guests from the national jazz scene. We've had people like Alan Barnes, Jim Mullen, guitarist Nigel Price and Dick Pearce, a trumpet player who used to play with Ronnie Scott. As well as this, Tony and Dominic have recently agreed to run The Roebuck Inn in Laughton, so I’m hoping we can arrange a jazz weekend there during the summer."
Alongside those plans, Terry’s busy at home too. "I've just acquired a new grand piano, so I'm enjoying playing that. It sounds brilliant but I can't take it out on gigs!"
First published in Viva Lewes magazine issue 90 March 2014.