December 1998

Duncan Millar
Dream Your Dream
Instinct Records

London-based pianist and composer Duncan Millar plays with an open, bright sound and fleet feel evoking the greats-from Oscar Petersen to Herbie Hancock. However, the easy-going, hooky melodic urban doodles populating Dream Your Dream (Instinct EX 376-2; 58:49) offer Millar as more of an instrumental Al Jarreau-laid-back, warm, and often irresistible. This feeling comes through on pieces like the blithely soulful "Comin' Thru," and bustling album opener, "Little Ray of Sunshine," with its memorable melody nicely complimented by Arden Hart's tenor sax. Millar's only real miscalculation here is a tendency to overuse electronic effects and percussion programming, which have a chilling effect on pieces like the album's title track, and the shuffling "A New Day." However, even the misguided thin synth strings threaded through "Lazy Days" can't mask Millar's natural talents, which are nicely accentuated by Toby Baker's mute trumpet. There's a lot to like on Dream Your Dream-which is why it's unfortunate that heavy electronics sometimes creep in and permeate Millar's summer-tonic light mood.

Originally published in December 1998
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