Duncan Millar - Good to Go
Keyboard player and
composer, Duncan Millar
was previously the driving force behind London-based
jazz-funk outfit A-One.
This is his second solo CD for Instinct Jazz – the first “Dream your Dream” was released in 1998. Eight of the ten compositions here are originals from the pen of Mr Millar.
I hope that people know what I mean when I say this British jazz-funk CD shows its origins. To my ears, bands like Shakatak and Incognito (with its various offshoots) have always blended dance rhythms with improvisation in a different way to their US counterparts. I’ve always enjoyed the sound and this CD encapsulates it for me.
Super-Real Feel dives right in with a strong synthesised bassline which makes you want to move. It’s adorned by the gorgeous guitar work of the seriously hip Chris Standring – he still sounds relaxed above the busy rhythm.
There’s more of a 70’s club feel on Brite Life, where soprano sax and guitar intertwine sweetly. Once the flute and that electric piano start trading moves, I’m hooked – oh, this is lovely!
Rodney Franklin’s jazz/dance classic The Groove rides along on a solid bassline and Millar stretches out on electric piano. Get out of that armchair and dance!
The title track, Good to Go, opens like an updated version of “Always There” and this is uplifting, just like that song. Producer Tony Campbell keeps things moving with his confident and tight bass playing. Acoustic piano is to the fore here and it’s sweet. I’m going to play this again…
High Sierra is a smooth mid-tempo dancer with a lazy flugelhorn and some beautiful Peter White-style acoustic guitar, again courtesy of the talented Tony Campbell. Do you drive a convertible – what are you waiting for? Buy this and play it loud.
We get a tougher groove on Southside Groove. A feelgood track with a guitar solo so pretty it makes you smile. Millar has called on some outstanding talent in the creation of this album.
Go Fly your Kite is right in the Shakatak vein – sunny, summery and again featuring the guitar of Chris Standring. No solos on this album are long or self-indulgent – they fit together like the pieces of a jigsaw.
Some very sexy tenor sax opens the Culbertson-like One Warm Day. The beat’s still there but this is jazzier than some of the songs – there are more key changes and it builds nicely. I’m a sucker for that old Blue Note wah-wah guitar sound – listen for it here.
In case you were getting too laid back Sci-Fi Hi brings you back to the funky side of things. If you liked Jason Rebello’s “Silver Surfer”, you’ll like this. As a bass player, I enjoyed hearing the bassman working hard here and listening to his hands on the strings. The cymbal riff reminds me of an old song by Morris Day or the Time (can’t quite remember) and that song was crazy just like this. It’s really grown on me.
A strange choice of ballad to finish: Captain of her Heart, a mid-80’s hit for the band Double. Stick with it though, and Millar stamps his signature on this with moody chords and elegant solos on acoustic guitar, trumpet and soprano sax. It’s all done with taste – like everything on the CD.
Did you guess? I love the album, there’s not one track I don’t enjoy. With some live drums and smoother fades on a couple of tracks, yes, I’d say it would be perfect. On the sleeve photo, Duncan Millar looks like a young guy – I for one hope he’s making music this good for a long time.
Reviewed by Chris Mann
Instinct Jazz INS545-2 –
Producer Tony Campbell