The Spark Label, founded in 2014 by musicians JJ Wheeler and Tom Green, has just released another album which promises to be a fresh and positive addition to the jazz universe.
Australian-born, London-bred pianist and composer Tom Millar will launch his debut album Unnatural Events at the famous Pizza Express Jazz Club in Soho in London this Wednesday, 20th September. He is joined on the album by his quartet, comprised of Alex Munk on guitar and electric sitar, bassist Misha Mullov-Abbado and Mike Clowes on drums.
An album like Unnatural Events deserves praise not only because it comprises a compendium of energy, poetry and raw talent, but also because - thanks to Help Musicians UK, the Jazz Services’ Recording Support Scheme and crowdfunding - the work of Tom Millar has been made possible for all of us to listen and enjoy! A wider jazz audience is vital for jazz to continue to thrive.
With an impressive formulation, adding inspiration from the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, the Victorian poet, as well as the Norwegian jazz saxophonist Jan Garbarek, this is a work that is clear and to the point, musically and lyrically.
Overall the album is inventive, and at times soulful round the edges.
Azura Days, the opening track is inspired, for example, by a trip around the Mediterranean, and it is musically refreshing, smooth with an almost symphonic piano beat.
There are beautiful moments between the piano and the guitar, Millar and Munk respectively playing with gusto, with the clever addition of the electric sitar on the title track, Millar and Munk succeeds in developing a perfect stylish combination.
The guest appearance of singer, composer and violinist, Alice Zawadzki is just icing on the cake. Alice’s voice is on Choro and the beautiful Inversnaid, a poem by Hopkins, as previously mentioned.
I am in awe and in total support, generally, of new artists and new blood coming through, and although this quartet is made of well known names, this does not preclude the fact that Tom Millar and his band cannot help but add new passion to the current scene. In fact, Unnatural Events carries crisp and contemporary sounds aplenty.
I look forward to the live gig at Pizza Express Jazz Club in Soho this week.