A lingering shadow of lyrical delight!
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
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.
While similar ensembles would include a myriad of covers, Pete Mills contributes nine solid original compositions with some eclectic covers from Rahsaan Roland Kirk and a gem from the Ellington / Strayhorn songbook tossed in for good measure. Tackling Kirk's "Serenade to a Cuckoo" is turned into a master class while the Ellington / Strayhorn "The Star Crossed Lovers" is exquisitely reharmed for freshness without venturing to far off the lyrical path originally set. The technical proficiency of Mills is never in question while his artistic soul is in full effect on tunes such as the somewhat pop infused "Sweet Shadow" and the smoldering "Blues for Mel."
Some artist reviews take very little effort. An engaging variety in tunes both covered and original combined with a quintet that operates with that old school working band feel quickly pushes Pete Mills and Sweet Shadow into the ranks of the names to keep an eye on for the coming years.
An exemplary release in every way.
Tracks: Shiner; Summer; The Snagel; Duo 1; New School; Sweet Shadow; Serenade to a Cuckoo; Close To Never; Duo 2; The Star Crossed Lovers; Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friens; Blues For Mel; Elora Dolce; Momentum.