Toronto native Andy Milne draws his music influences from – among others – Thelonious Monk, Art Tatum, Herbie Nichols, Bela Bartok, Joni Mitchell and Stevie Wonder. His inspirations also include politics, philosophy, comedy and science fiction. His quintet Dapp Theory blends jazz with funk, groove and hip-hop, and he is a fixture on the New York City jazz scene. Last year he was Artist in Residence the University of British Columbia.
Since the bulk of his various recordings have been of originals, Milne decided to make his rare solo piano outing an exploration of well-known songs by other composers. Most of them come from a rock or folk area and are by Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Sting, and Neil Young, plus three Milne originals. He looked for songs with strong melodies and less harmonic complexity than the sort of music he normally performs with his band. His improvisations adhere to an introspective folk music approach. I recall jazz-expert friends in my youth accusing me of liking chamber jazz “that didn’t swing.” Well, nice as Milne’s work is – and the reproduction of his Steinway is superb – it doesn’t swing. I admit I would be more taken with the arrangements of these favorite tunes if all of them were favorites of mine. Actually, I was only familiar with two of them, so I found myself in a similar situation as when listening to Christopher O’Riley’s piano versions of Radiohead tunes: I don’t listen to Radiohead.
So if you’re a Joni Mitchell and Neil Young fan, give this SACD a listen. You may be completely captivated. The piano sound is very strong on the center channel, which helps avoid the Steinway sounding like it is 40 feet wide; it just like the listener is very close to it.
TrackList: Amelia, Geewa, Message in a Bottle, I Shot the Sheriff, After the Goldrush, The Times They Are A-Changin’, The Metamorph, Don’t Let It Bring You Down, Sensei-tions, The Circle Game, Danny Boy.
– John Henry