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Andy Milne & Gregoire Maret: Scenarios

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"[Albums are] like a trailer to the movie... a CD is really a mini-series, declares Canadian pianist/keyboardist Andy Milne. Similar analogies with the Seventh Art are common when it comes time to define and characterize music. On the aptly-titled Scenarios, Milne offers, aided by harmonicist and longtime collaborator Grégoire Maret, a more pictorial approach to musical development than his previous outings. Indeed, the cinematic quality of the music plots the whole disc, especially on the improvised pieces. The in-demand Maret, for his part, is no stranger to movies, being the subject of Frédéric Baillif's 2003 documentary Sideman.

Both this release and his solo effort Dreams and False Alarms (Songlines, 2007) suggest a shift in artistic direction, a departure from the hybrid sounds of his stellar, M-BASE-infused ensemble Dapp Theory. That said, Scenarios remains primarily a program of contrasts, one that reveals, in a more intimate setting, the unique chemistry between these two stylistically opposed musicians.

For starters, Maret's time-feel is laid-back and his phrasing languorously melodic and lyric, whereas Milne plays long, stream of consciousness lines and ideas with a rhythmic edge. Maret's smooth phrases sail afloat whereas Milne's bouts bounce in all directions. This is exemplified on Dizzy Gillespie's "Con Alma —which was also covered on the spectacular Dapp Theory disc, Y'all Just Don't Know (Concord, 2003)—where the harmonicist displays a cool, balanced approach to solo construction while Milne's unleashes successive raids of ideas.

With each of the five improvisations constructed around a different simple musical device, Maret's "As Far As We Know, clearly influenced by trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, abounds in lush modal chords and add a denser harmonic sound. It is the most interesting composition here, along with "Couch Talk, one of the rare M-BASE themes to make use of silence.

Hardcore fans will probably appreciate having this fine document of the duo's performances, because who knows if that will happen again anytime soon.

Track Listing: Headache in Residence; Pharos of Alexandria; As Far As We Know; Con Alma; Follow Me; House of Fisher; Couch Talk; Steps From Body to Soul; Intersections; Crystal Labyrinth; Moon River.

Personnel: Andy Milne: piano; Gr

Title: Scenarios | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: ObliqSound


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