Profound melodic and harmonic innovation – not simply in the rhythmic realm, which please note – is the hallmark of No Mentions, No Worries an album by the drummer Jonathan Mills. The wry humour of the title suggests that the drummer is happy to mark time behind some of the best improvising musicians – such as pianist George Cables and Troy Roberts. But as you are likely to remember this music long after the echoes of the last phrase have disappeared into silence you can be sure that there will surely be many more “mentions” of both the music and – certainly – this percussion colourist and composer.
Given the composer and drummer’s reputation as an ardent Jazzophile one readily reads the influence of the many great names from Mr Cables and Mr Roberts to Michael Brecker, Joey Calderazzo and almost certainly drumming legends like Tony Williams and few other stellar rhythmists that have inspired the bardic lyricism and lush textures of this music. As a matter of fact, Mr Mills suggests that this is, indeed, the case in more than one or two of these songs. You will hear some of the most remarkable, angular writing full of moments of sparser scoring throughout.
Aching harmonies and downward melodic phrases belie songs such as No Mentions, No Worries and Solecism. But none of this music is likely to lull any listener to sleep. On the contrary the stirring individual and ensemble performances are likely to keep you on the edge of your seat.
For sure it is the intricate drumming patterns and widely-spaced inventions of Mr Mills’ percussion colours that – in swirling throughout this music – keep it fresh and alive from one harmonic variation to the next. The rolling thunder that is generated by pedal on bass drum, and skins and mallets on skins is just as often tempered by the hissing whispers of sticks lightly brushing the brass of the cymbals. Just as often the music comes alive with the elemental crash of cymbals as well.
Alto saxophonist Luke Washington, pianist Tyrone Jackson and guitarist Patrick Arthur have internalised this music to perfection and this is reflected in their instrumental contributions to music such as Solecism, Calderazzish and Sneak Attack. Meanwhile bassist Tommy Sauter displays pizzicato technique in spades as he helps construct the rhythmic edifice on which Mr Mills and the rest of the improvising musicians paint their own individual masterpieces.
This is music certainly that begs many “mentions” – all the better, for with this repertoire and its execution Jonathan Mills certainly deserves his time in the limelight.
Tracks – 1: No Mentions, No Worries; 2: For Hadley’s Folks; 3: When My Mind’s Quiet; 4: Solecism; 5: Cool Out; 6: Calderazzish; 7: Wait for It; 8: Sneak Attack
Musicians – Luke Washington: alto saxophone; Patrick Arthur: guitar; Tyrone Jackson: piano and Fender Rhodes; Tommy Sauter: contrabass; Jonathan Mills: drums
Released – 2022
Label – Independent
Runtime – 51:08