17 Bill GilliamEntangled Pathways
Gilliam, Milmine & Pottie
Melos Productions MPCD 005 (bill-gilliam.com)

Review

This challenging and enervating recording is a collection of original music created by the acoustic trio of pianist Bill Gilliam, soprano saxophonist Kayla Milmine and drummer Ambrose Pottie. The creative group originally met through the noted Toronto Improvisers Orchestra (TIO) and soon began writing and performing impressive free music together. According to Gilliam (the producer and primary composer), “Some pieces are composed using free-floating melodies, jazz idioms and modal-chromatic tonalities, while other pieces are freely improvised creations.” Although perhaps gestated by different processes, the 12 impressive tracks all seem to lead to a central concept of connectedness, alternate realities and divergent pathways that may yet resonate together like strands in a web; in other words, musical quantum entanglement.

The Singularity is well-placed in the program, as it seems to portend the sonic and emotional musical journey ahead. Gilliam’s lush, powerful and insistent piano lines are both appealing and unnerving, and Milmine’s commitment to this extraordinary and technically challenging music is evident with every note that she plays – she bends that piece of cold metal to her will, and makes it sing.

Mountain Dance is a standout. One of the most visual and rhythmically complex pieces on the CD, the action is propelled by Pottie, who remains completely musical while deftly driving the trio into the nether regions. Also, the groovy and exotic Porous Borders utilizes unison and descending lines as well as modal dissonance and stark piano statements to create a feeling of nervous isolation – all rendered with a sense of irony, as true isolation may be nothing more than a self-imposed construct.

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