Jonathan Mills, No Mentions, No Worries Review
by Jeff Becker
Jonathan Mills is a composer, arranger, and drummer based in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition, Mills maintains an active performance schedule as a band leader and sideman. He is now releasing his debut album titled No Mentions, No Worries. The album is a quintet presenting eight Mills original compositions that blend the jazz tradition with contemporary branches of the genre’s evolution and is designed as a collection of moods and thought journeys through life in today’s America. Joining Mills on the album is Luke Weathington – alto saxophone; Patrick Arthur – guitar; Tyrone Jackson – piano and Fender Rhodes; and Tommy Sauter – bass.
“When My Mind’s Quiet” is a composition inspired by Mills’ reading of The Inner Game of Tennis. Mills says the following, “I wanted a chance to explore being in the moment & turning off my filter while having to navigate asymmetrical phrases and other challenges that require extra brain capacity even after time spent internalizing the song.” Mills’ compositions have a natural flow of ensemble parts and counterpoint, and his melodies are memorable and grounded in the tradition. The song’s three-part form allows the ensemble to develop varying textures and keeps the music interesting. Mills Elvin Jones inspired Mambo groove is beautifully played during the first section. He is an attentive communicator during the solos while always maintaining the groove and giving the soloist space. Mills’ drum solo is fluid and in the pocket with a sense of balance and momentum.
“Calderazzish” was Mills focusing on the inspiration of pianist/composer Joey Calderazzo’s composition style. Mills’ rhythms and melody concepts give the tune an enjoyable bounce with a modern jazz zest. This is a feel-good composition designed for substantial interaction and soloing. Weathington and Mills deliver passionate performances. Mills and Sauter have robust foundational chemistry evident in this modern jazz setting. Mills’ musical drum solo is framed with an ensemble figure and acts as the ending to a fade.
No Mentions, No Worries is a strong debut album for Mills. His compositions have suspense and memorable themes, all supported by Mills popping drum sounds. The set has a variance of feels, textures, and complexities. However, the synchronous activity of the ensemble and Mills’ compositions deliver a debut album worthy of your attention.