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January/February 2000

Andy Milne
New Age of Aquarius
Contrology Records

Veteran and protege of the M-BASE school of arithmetic jazz-funk, keyboardist Andy Milne has been carving out a respectable, distinctive career on the fringes of the jazz mainstream. His latest handmade album is a souffle of intricate groove-making tracks and vocal detours, a merger of groove-driven jazz, hip hop, and pop, aiming at Something New. Milne plays with a secret blend of precision and rangy inventiveness, sometimes recalling Herbie Hancock's Mwandishi period, stirred in with M-BASE calculations. The secret star here is drummer Mark Prince, who navigates said sliced-and-diced rhythms with captivating ease.
This music is not strictly for music's sake, though. Joni Mitchell's "Free Man in Paris" is intriguingly reharmonized around a faithful vocal reading by Vinia Mojica, while Kokayi adds lyrics, raps, and vocals, sometimes with an all too topical spin-how will tunes based on meaningless cultural ephemera like Howard Stern ("Strictly Stern") and Jerry Springer ("Jerry's Kids") hold up in a decade? The fragmented vocals and linguistic fragmentations along the way don't always complement the musical concept at hand: words get in the way of the musical constructs, and sometimes, you wish you could ixnay the vocal tracks. But, vis a vis the axiom that art without experimentation amounts to empty-headed museum-keeping, projects like this assume an important place, despite flaws and unfinished conceptual business.

Originally published in January/February 2000
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