Reviews

Read about Sweet Shadow...

Dan McClenaghan from Allaboutjazz.com

A lot of words have clicked out of the keyboards concerning the possible demise of the compact disc. Maybe CDs will suffer the extinction, maybe not. But one thing is sure: saxophonist Pete Mills' Sweet Shadow is an excellent argument for the survival of the species.

On his fourth release as a leader, Mills has gathered a crack quintet to navigate labyrinths of ten of his modern-bop compositions, along with the Ellington/Strayhorn tune, "The Star-Crossed Lovers," Rolland Kirk's "Serenade to a Cuckoo," and a seemingly odd pick that works to perfection, the standard "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend."

Mill's opens the disc with his "Shiner," a rousing ride down an open highway, at ninety miles per hour. Mills, with his smooth delivery sizzling along to deliver the a craggy melody, brings the late sax man Joe Henderson, on his classic Blue Note albums, to mind. Or sometimes George Coleman with the fluidity of his lines. Guitarist Pete McCann and pianist Erik Augis supply a rhythmic weave behind the horn, and ubiquitous drummer Matt Wilson and bassist Martin Wind are relentlessly propulsive on this vivacious, modern-leaning tune. Read More

Jordan Richardson from Something Else Reviews

Toronto native, saxophonist Pete Mills takes to his debut on Cellar Live Records with polish and swing. Together with Pete McCann (guitars), Erik Augis (piano), Martin Wind (bass), and Matt Wilson (drums), he puts together a record that is both traditional and exuberantly modern. Sweet Shadow features an impressive line-up of 14 tracks, nine of which are originals and two of which are free-form duos.

Mills finds himself walking a fresh path through a genre that is often inhabited by the shadows of past greats, but rather than bemoaning the situation he embraces it. The "sweetness" found in the history of jazz and the many titans who crafted and elevated the art form is found in his compositions and in his playing. Read More

Critical Jazz

Remarkably subtle and unobtrusive, Sweet Shadow is an expansive look at one of the finest tenor players working out of Ohio with some of the finest talent out of the Big Apple. Pop sensibilities, free form explorations and hard bop oriented grooves push Sweet Shadow to the front of the pack for new releases for 2014. The accompanying 4tet of Matt Wilson on drums, guitarist Pete McCann, bassist Martin Wind and new pianist Erik Augis make this quintet a formidable harmonic force to be reckoned with. Read More...

MidwestRecord.com

Working with the inimitable safety net of Matt Wilson and Pete McCann, this rising tenor ace can't do anything but play with a light shining on the future and with total fearlessness. A fine example of old man jazz played for today's aging children who will keep a session like this on their memory sticks for years to come, this is moving and grooving stuff with that special something that will satisfy moldy figs while bringing new kids into the tent. High octane throughout, this is loaded with the kind of moves that make you say things like "I haven't heard playing like this since Getz". Yeah, it's that good, check it out. Read More...

a jazz listener's thoughts

Mills plays tenor sax and has rounded up a nice group: Pete McCann on guitars, Martin Wind on bass, Matt Wilson on drums, all of whom I know, and a newcomer who is a standout on piano, Erik Augis. Together they create a feeling of old time hard bop/post bop as they spin through twelve songs, most by Mills, who writes in a classic style reminiscent of classic Blue Note sessions of the 50s and early 60s. Plus there are two short duos of free ranging music with Mills on tenor and Wilson on the drum set. A lot to like, including special arrangements for two classics, "Serenade to a Cuckoo" and "Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend." I think lovers of the mainstream will find a lot to like here. Read More...

BeBop Spoken Here

Jazz is a never ending voyage of discovery. You become complacent, blasé the old ennui takes over - you've heard it all before and then - Flash! Bang! Alakazam! Pete Mills segues by! From Canada, Toronto of all places. Toronto I ask you? Then you think back and recall that one of the greatest jazz concerts ever took place at Massey Hall in that very city. Bird, Diz, Bud, Mingus, Roach back in 1953. An autograph collected by Mills' father at that concert is reproduced among the album notes and it becomes obvious that the son has jazz genes inherited from his papa.

But, although the past has clearly channelled the talented tenorist in the right direction this is no mere attempt at a nostalgic update. This is today without jettisoning yesterday. Read More...

Marlbank

A word for the clarity of the presentation in the lay-out here firstly, a much under-appreciated virtue. And in what must be a fairly rare inclusion in album artwork past or present there's a sghting of Bird's signature, ″in pencil”, as Mills captions in parenthesis, from the Massey Hall concert taken from an autograph book left to Mills by his dad. The unfussy way Vancouver label Cellar Live go about the business of putting out this record, their first, draws to mind the look of Criss Cross Jazz albums a bit, and for that matter as a record, Sweet Shadow is musically germane to Gerry Teekens’ approach. A quintet affair recorded in New Jersey at the beginning of 2013 led by tenor saxophonist Mills Sweet Shadow is mostly a showcase for his swinging and bluesy hard bop-grounded compositions. Included also are Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s ‘Serenade to a Cuckoo’; ‘The Star Crossed Lovers’ , covered successfully a lot in a range of 2013 releases; and the Jule Styne/Leo Robin song practically synonymous with Marilyn Monroe, ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’, a cheesier choice in theory but not so much in execution. Mills, joined by guitarist Pete McCann, pianist Erik Augis, bassist Martin Wind, and drummer Matt Wilson, deliver in their old fashioned joyful way a vintage sound lovingly lacquered and honed. Sit back and let it wash it all over you. Read More...

Read about Fresh Spin...

Pete Mills new release, Fresh Spin, is the follow up to the saxophonist’s critically acclaimed 2004 Summit Records debut, Art and Architecture (4 Stars, All Music Guide). Featuring Tony Monaco on the B3 organ, Fresh Spin is released on Monaco’s Summit imprint, Chicken Coup Records. It also includes the exceptional guitar work of NYC based Pete McCann, drummer Jim Rupp and bassist Andy Woodson. Eleven compositions fill this high energy groove and bop-based recording, including a little known Horace Silver composition Diggin’ on Dexter and Billy Strayhorn’s haunting ballad A Flower is a Lovesome Thing. Organ marvel Tony Monaco fires up the B3 on this recording, the first to showcase his talents since 2005’s East to West (top 5 JazzWeek Radio Chart). Read more...

DownBeat Magazine

Downbeat Magazine gives Fresh Spin 3½ Stars Read more...

JazzTimes Magazine

"...tenor man Mills and B3 Burner Tony Monaco lay down the law in this thoroughly entertaining set." Read more...

All Music Review

Tenor saxophonist Pete Mills and organist Tony Monaco make for a very potent musical team throughout Fresh Spin. Although the instrumentation is that of a 1960s soul-jazz organ group, the music, other than two standards ("A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing," a tenor guitar duet, and guitarist Pete McCann's "Cooked Cheese") is comprised of Mills' orginals. Read more...

www.allaboutjazz.com

Brimming with the essence of good cheer, Mills and crew communicate a distinct sense of musical merriment during the entirety of this impacting and irrefutably entertaining jaunt. Read more...

Jazz Review

Fresh Spin covers much territory and, defying expectations, goes beyond a survey of traditional tenor sax classic recordings, like “Body and Soul” or “Moody’s Mood for Love,” and instead reshapes the music to reflect Pete Mills’ own talent and personality. And like his previous album, Art and Architecture, Fresh Spin reaffirms the fact that much jazz talent remains to be discovered outside of New York City and on some of the more specialized labels. Read more...

Read about Art and Architecture...

All Music Guide (4 Stars)

Pete Mills, a tenor saxophonist inspired by his mentor Walt Weiskopf, is an excellent player influenced by but not derivative of John Coltrane. On Art and Architecture, most of the music is straight-ahead post-bop, utilizing chord changes in the themes but not necessarily always tied to them in the improvisations. Mills' dry tone is showcased at its best on the augmented blues-with-a-bridge "Dot Com," "In Walked Bud," a brief duet with guitarist Pete McCann on "Chelsea Bridge," and the lighthearted "Pumpkin Shoes." The band really gets to romp on the funky "Clubfoot" and there are fine spots along the way for McCann and pianist Bobby Floyd, with bassist Dennis Irwin and drummer Matt Wilson being stimulating in support. The program has plenty of variety in moods and grooves, and Mills fares quite well in every setting of this excellent modern jazz set.

-- Scott Yanow, All Music Guide

JazzTimes Magazine

Weiskopf protege Pete Mills has released his own second CD as a leader, Art and Architecture (Summit), which is buoyed by the stalwart bass and drums team of Dennis Irwin and Matt Wilson, assisted by pianist Bobby Floyd and/or guitarist Pete McCann (acoustic and electric). Whatever the instrumentation-sometimes a tenor sax and guitar duo (Strayhorn's "Chelsea Bridge") or a tenor sax-bass-drums trio (Strayhorn's "Isfahan" and Monk's "In Walked Bud")-Mills demonstrates a firm control of his instrument and of his material, all except the aforementioned being compositions of his own. His tunes include a nice bossa ("Seven Shades of Blue"), a couple of straightahead burners ("Spin Dri" and "April Tune"), some funk-laden, backbeat blues ("Dot Com" and "Clubfoot"), a lovely ballad ("Remembrance") and a quirky, fast-paced head ("Pumpkin Shoes"). Everybody plays well in a mainstream modern mode, with the leader's versatile tenor-kick-butt on "Clubfoot" and gorgeous on "Isfahan"-a key element of the album's success. Read more...

-- David Franklin , the December 2004

Dayton Daily News

Pete Mills: Music on a 'high level' performer recieving critical acclaim for his compositions. Read more...

--Matt Warner, Dayton Daily News 8/03/04

All About Jazz.com

It's nice to hear a mainstream set hit the ground running like this. Saxophonist Pete Mills opens his Art and Architecture with the frictionless propulsion of “Dot Com,” a tune that zips forward on the rhythm section momentum of a sleek monorail riding a cushion of magnetism, on a workout that lets you know that straight ahead jazz is alive and well, juiced up even, in the hands of a younger generation. Read more...

-- Dan McClenaghan All About Jazz.Com August 23, 2004

Jazz Review.com

Art And Architecture, consisting mostly of Mills' own compositions, is an outstanding work, the equal or better of many releases from entertainment conglomerate-owned labels, as if Mills had suddenly arrived with his talent already formed, when in reality, of course, such natural-sounding ability is the result of years of hard work. Read more...

-- Don Williamson, JazzReview.com

Dayton City Paper

Columbus saxophonist Pete Mills has released his second CD on the Summit Label and it’s a real winner. His cohorts on the record include guitarist Pete McCann, bassist Dennis Irwin and drummer Matt Wilson — all in-demand New York players, along with Columbus piano legend Bobby Floyd. Read more...

-- Don Henke, Dayton City Paper, October 13, 2004

All About Jazz.com (Review #2)

Straightahead jazz combines pleasant memories with fresh energy when it's created by a unit such as Pete Mills' quintet. His lovely tenor saxophone tone soothes while it cascades around the room. The session remains peaceful and quiet throughout. Mills stretches out on up-tempo romps and lays back casually for lyrical ballads. Read more...

-- Jim Santella, All About Jazz.Com

All About Jazz.com (Review #3)

If there is one defining aspect about Pete Mills, it is his ability to pave a path that is in direct communication with his listeners. Though he often shows a big, brawny disposition, he never overplays his hand. And while there is turmoil and a roiling heat as he takes the high post-bop road, he also showcases a softer side with ballads that shimmer and glow in the emotional nest he builds for them. Read more...

-- Jerry D'Souza , All About Jazz.Com

More Reviews

The record title here is justified for what, by all accounts, is a very well crafted, well-designed session. The sound is great; the program (of mostly originals) is compelling; and the assemblage of musicians is high quality and highly complementary to Mills’ vision.

-- Gerard Cox, Columbus Alive - August 18, 2004

“…after hearing the CD, I would give it six stars if I were judging it. Your playing is wonderful and your writing is superb. I love it.”

-- Saxophonist Jimmy Heath

“This recording gets to the heart of what Pete’s music is all about. It’s strong, musical and personal, showcasing his talents as both a composer and a fine tenor saxophonist, and the band is first-rate.”

-- Milestone recording artist, saxophonist Jim Snidero

Read about Momentum...

The Columbus Dispatch’s Curt Schieber writes of Mills’ compositions as being “impressive” with solos that are “ear opening…with a tone that is big and rich…[His CD Momentum] recalls the post-bop of mid-1960s Blue Note records. But it also echoes other decades and other labels. It is remarkable first and foremost though, in its pursuit of pure jazz.”

“[Momentum] established Mills as a composer of complexity and character and an imaginative but exacting improviser.”

-- Curt Schieber, The Columbus Dispatch

 
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