had the pleasure of reviewing Duncan Millar's "Good
to Go" as long ago as 2002 and it was good to catch up
with 2012's "Fresh Air".
Millar has retained his ear for strong hooks and addictive
rhythms and this is abundantly clear on the breezy title
track, where piano takes the lead role. He's also
comfortable with his Latin side and 'Buenas' is delightful -
an elegant production which evokes warm sunshine, the beach,
a cocktail, need I go on? The lovely samba 'Ilhabela' keeps
that vibe going, and the trading of solos between electric
piano, soprano sax and acoustic guitar certainly keeps me
The waltz 'As Lovers Do' is as pretty as it is moving. I
hope that Mr Millar was not offended when I asked him did he
write this - it has a nostalgic feel that made me believe it
had been written 40, 50 or even 60 years ago, but no. It's
an original piece which has won a place in my heart. It's
just too good to analyse in detail - I just hope you hear it
'Southern Sky' has such a relaxing tempo that you almost
forget those minor chords and the bluesy feel that lies at
the heart of it. Millar solos like Joe Sample on acoustic
piano and a gentle flute whispers its reply. Lovely. That
same combination of beauty and longing is found in 'Autumn
Mood', where the melody is doubled on electric piano and
muted trumpet. Feel free to just drift away... If you're not
already in your private heaven, 'Belmondo' will take you
there. Piano and alto sax double up, and some superb rhythm
guitar licks add a lovely retro feel.
My choice for radio airplay, for some while now, has been
the urban 'Blue Cool'. Why? It's blue - and it's cool.
Marcus Johnson fans should lend an ear to this. Think jazz
tunes in 5/4 time are hard work? Not this one. Harking back
to the Brubeck tradition, 'Subcontinental' uses this time
signature as the framework for some nice solos and changes.
Real jazz. The electric piano intro to the closer 'Get What
you Give' could be lifted from many of the 60's best pop or
soul records, but lay a tight rhythm down, bring in a
backing vocalist and you have an uplifting, hook-laden dance
record. I've done a little club DJing and I still dream of
having a floor full of people getting crazy to a number like
It’s rare that you can listen to an album, like it, then go
back to it weeks later and say “he got everything right”.
That’s what I just did, though, and not only am I knocked
out by the composition, performance and production on this
record, I’m full of admiration for the fact that Mr Millar
has released this on his own label.
I’ll be playing this all summer – and all next summer…
Warmday Records WD001 – Producer – Duncan Millar