Dave Milligan is a remarkably versatile Scottish pianist, composer and arranger, perhaps best known as an imaginative and inventive jazz pianist with the Dave Milligan Trio and the Colin Steele Quintet. His wide-ranging collaborations regularly cross the boundaries between jazz and folk, and he has also composed/arranged music for theatre productions in Scotland. Milligan and Steele collaborated with Italian jazz musicians on the Stone Islands project, which was performed live at the Edinburgh Jazz Festival in 2013. For Momento, his first album since 2008, Dave Milligan has joined forces with two of those Italian musicians, Danilo Gallo (bass) and U. T. Gandhi (drums), travelling to Italy to record with them in a studio in Cavalicco, in the province of Udine. Of the seven compositions on the album, five are written by Dave Milligan and the other two are his arrangements of tunes adapted from Scottish folk songs.
Written by Dave Milligan while travelling to Italy for the recording of the album, the opening tune Going Nowhere is constructed around a simple yet elegant motif, which opens out into a graceful melody interspersed by a series of soulful piano breaks, underpinned by deep pulses of bass and feathery percussion. Milligan’s arrangement of the traditional folk song Parcel Of Rogues (a protest against the Union of the Scottish and English crowns in 1707) features a sprightly and bluesy piano intro, which ushers in some gloriously freewheeling and rippling piano runs and a percussive bass solo. Drawn from Milligan’s suite of music inspired by correspondence between Robert Burns and Jean McLehose (‘Clarinda’), the majestic (There’s) Always Tomorrow opens with a dreamy melody and builds in tempo towards some inspired, and sometimes heavily percussive, piano runs and a beautifully-constructed bass solo.
As befits a tune written by Dave Milligan for his daughter Ella, They Said It Was About You is a reflective, lilting ballad, notable for some graceful piano and bass passages. Sticking with the family theme, Sandy’s 70th is a beautiful solo piano piece, with a classical feel, written by Milligan as an affectionate tribute to his Dad.
Hamish Henderson’s stirring folk song Freedom Come All Ye is given a bluesy treatment in Dave Milligan’s adaptation, Freedom, in which the pianist displays the full range of his skills with a series of breath-taking solos, supported by masterly bass and polyrhythmic drumming. The album closes with Made In The Border (a nod to Milligan’s roots in the Scottish Borders), whose deep piano chords and classy bass-led melody pave the way for wonderful interplay and punchy solos from each member of the trio.
Momento features Dave Milligan’s finest recorded work to date. This new album will delight Milligan’s fans and it deserves to win him many more.
Momento will released by Big Bash Records on 28th August 2020. It will be a digital only release, for now.