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If there is one defining aspect about Pete Mills, it is his ability to pave a path that is in direct communication with his listeners. Though he often shows a big, brawny disposition, he never overplays his hand. And while there is turmoil and a roiling heat as he takes the high post-bop road, he also showcases a softer side with ballads that shimmer and glow in the emotional nest he builds for them.
Mills plays surprise to good effect in his compositions and arrangements. On "Dot Com" he parlays swing into bop, and when that road marks a steady path, Bobby Floyd cools the atmosphere, creating enticing whirls on the pianowhen up jumps Pete McCann and changes the trajectory with some electrifying rock lines on the guitar! McCann is even more volatile on the romping "Clubfoot." There is no inkling of what is to come. Mills and his fragmented lines, Floyd taking his cool permutations into a charged atmosphere are the beckoning for Mills to blow some hard, brawny lines, when in come the riffs and the wah wah from McCann. It all simmers into funk before the slow fade out.
The ballads cast quite another spell. "Isfahan" is played with luminous delicacy, as Mills goes into the upper register to find notes that glide elegantly and bring in an enchanting presence made all the more effective by the empathic, and more importantly, unobtrusive support of Matt Wilson and Dennis Irwin. Wilson's accents lend a light Latin tinge to "Seven Shades of Blue" as Mills and McCann, playing an eloquent acoustic guitar, give the melody a warm buzz. An unhurried encapsulation of the theme is opened up and invested with some delectable ideas that make it throb. The feeling is deep and both Mills, with his mellifluous approach, and McCann, with his insouciant flow of ideas, make this a top-notch offering.
Mills stirs up a heady brew. Stop by and indulge.
Track Listing: Dot Com; Seven Shades of Blue; In Walked Bud; Spin Dri; Chelsea Bridge; April Tune; Pumpkin Shoes; Remembrance; Clubfoot; Isfahan
Personnel: Pete Mills-tenor saxophone; Pete McCann-acoustic and electric guitar; Bobby Floyd-piano; Dennis Irwin-bass; Matt Wilson-drums
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.