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Andy Milne & Dapp Theory: The Seasons of Being

Glenn Astarita By

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From a scientific stance, the jury may still be out on homeopathic treatments via a wealth of published material—a subject well beyond the scope of this article. However, estimable jazz pianist Andy Milne (Steve Coleman, Ravi Coltrane) has reaped positive homeopathic benefits while fighting prostate cancer. Per the marketing info on Sunnyside's website: "Milne's positive experiences with homeopathy led him to ask how it could influence improvisation and lead to more emotionally meaningful interactions for the musicians playing his music." Hence, the artist channels these experiences into the scope of this production.

There's no shortage of talent here. Yet several works are steered by vocals, narrations, traces of hip hop, and rap that isn't hardcore by design, although a bit wordy at times. Regardless, Milne's sophisticated arrangements allude to a focused musician who is equating a not so common personal topic with the poignant and communicative aspects of an open-world view of jazz. Although this is not a free-for-all program by Milne's long-running Dapp Theory band, it does aim to fuse a healing force with sterling musicianship and serious-minded subject matter.

Milne does inject a few affable melodies with Christopher Hoffman and Jody Redage's cello voicings, sharply contrasted by passages where guitar ace Ben Monder adds a little bite amid his distortion-spiked notes. Certain motifs are created with undulating flows; the pianist's buoyant comping and intensifying statements during these evolving storylines are partially modelled with climactic crescendos.

"The Guardian" features LaTonya Hall's soft vocals abetted by provocative metaphors, countered by Milne's fragile voicings, leading to a circular theme and driven home by Aaron Kruziki's whirling soprano sax soloing. On "Scotopia," John Moon delivers a jazz rap narrative with Monder's low-key distortion, and trumpeter Ralph Alessi's supple lines. The final piece, "Capturing The Castle," is eerie and austere, along with Hall's sullen narratives. Indeed, it's a rather grim way to close out an album. But from a holistic perspective, there are not many uplifting or cheery movements to offset the overtly sober tone that remains a constant throughout.

Track Listing: Surge & Splendor; The Cusp; The Guardian; Scotopia; Satanama; Three-Way Mirror; Ancestree; Luminescence; Capturing The Castle.

Personnel: Andy Milne: piano; Aaron Kruziki: soprano sax, clarinet, bass clarinet, douduk; John Moon: vocal poetics (1, 4, 6); Christopher Tordini: acoustic & electric bass; Kenny Grohowski: drums. Featured Guests — Ben Monder: guitar; Ralph Alessi: trumpet; La Tanya Hall: vocals (1, 3, 6, 8, 9); Michael Attïas: alto & baritone saxophones (except 7); Christopher Hoffman: cello (2, 4, 5, 6, 9); Jody Redhage - cello (1, 3, 4).

Title: The Seasons of Being | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records

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