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Tom Millar Quartet: Unnatural Events

Roger Farbey By

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Born in Sydney, pianist, composer and bandleader Tom Millar grew up in London where he still resides. After reading Music at King's College, Cambridge, he studied Jazz Piano and Composition for a Masters at the Royal Academy of Music and later with Django Bates in Bern, Switzerland.

The brisk "Azur Days" opens Unnatural Events with guitarist Alex Munk soloing first with his trademark crystal clear tone, swiftly followed by Millar's spritely piano work. "The Seafarer," the album's longest track at just over eight minutes, languidly unfolds like the apocryphal "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner," enhanced by shimmering glissando guitar runs from Munk. On the title track, Munk's electric sitar contribution is glorious; he apparently found the instrument lying around the studio and, fortuitously, insisted on it appearing on the album. That's genuine serendipitous extemporisation for you.

Underpinned by four strong thematic chords, "Power Chord Thing" provides a stunning solo opportunity for Munk whose own excellent 2016 debut album Flying Machines should also be checked out. Vocalist Alice Zawadzki is heard on two tracks only, "Choro" and "Inversnaid." On the former she utilises a wordless style, sounding a little like Flora Purim. On the latter track, the idiosyncratic words she intones, written by the nineteenth century English poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, lend themselves surprisingly well to jazz and Zawadzki handles them expertly. An obligato vamp is central to the lively "Woad" which offers plenty of opportunity for Millar's light and shade piano and a resonant pizzicato bass solo from Misha Mullov-Abbado.

Munk's Bill Frisell-like guitar leads on the final laid-back "Park Hill" which in its closing stages is reminiscent of very early Keith Jarrett. A debut album of distinction, Millar has brought in some very classy players to realise his collection of eight self-penned tracks and its confident cohesiveness will surely invite repeated plays.

Track Listing: Azura Days; The Seafarer; Unnatural Events; Power Chord Thing; Choro; Inversnaid; Woad; Park Hill.

Personnel: Tom Millar: piano; Alex Munk: guitar, electric sitar; Misha Mullov-Abbado: bass; Mike Clowes: drums; Alice Zawadzki: vocals (5,6).

Title: Unnatural Events | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Spark Label

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