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ian millar - saxophone

dominic spencer - piano

"Jazz in the Village"
Coal Aston Village Hall
Derbyshire, Friday 4th November 2016

Subdued lighting, candlelights on every table, a sparse piano and a husky sax certainly changed the feeling that this was Coal Aston’s Village Hall as Ian Millar and Dominic Spencer set out to recreate the evocative atmosphere that epitomised the smoky bars and haunting melodies of bygone times.

If this description seems over the top – believe me it’s not!

With Ian playing either his soprano or tenor saxophone and Dominic on piano they more than achieved just that and more in their two sets as part of their “Jazz in the Village” tour.

The small but appreciative audience were able to enjoy their music at close quarters and better appreciate the musicianship and arrangements being displayed,

The mix of jazz standards and Ian’s own compositions was just right, with Victor Young’s "Weaver of Dreams" setting us off on a journey with the likes of Cole Porter, Johnny Green and Jerome Kern amongst others - all sitting comfortably alongside Ian’s "Morning Dew", "Midnight" and a tribute to a canal walking charity fundraiser of their aquaintance – "Towpath Ted".

The second set highlights for me included "All the Things You Are", "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" and "Autumn Leaves", and, their encore of "Stella by Starlight".

This was live music at its best with no hint of repetition – the arrangements and interpretations ‘belonged’ to Ian and Dominic – both fresh yet familiar.

No vocals needed here when every individual note and run conveys a word, a phrase or an emotion with the voice of the sax providing the stories in the landscape created on the piano.

This was music that harked back to an earlier age but you didn’t have to be of that age to truly appreciate the performance.

Those who were in the audience will be able to add this evening to their collection of ‘most memorable and enjoyable’ music events.

John Reedman


Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2016

But if you’ve seen enough Fringe stuff and have reached saturation point then clearly rest and recuperation are in need. You’ll find nothing more soothing or mellifluous than Ian Millar and Dominic Spencer’s Jazz at Lunchtime, which is exactly as stated, an hour’s top-class jazz standards played in comfortable surroundings where food and drinks are on hand, the perfect antidote to all the madness that engulfs Edinburgh every August. A piano and saxophone combo of the highest calibre, they should be prescribed as necessary therapy for all those who’ve over-gorged on Fringe and Festival fare.

Amanda Hodges
23rd August 2016


COWDRAY HALL, Aberdeen Art Gallery
Thursday, 17 January 2013

In response to audience research regarding the types of music available in the Lunchbreak Series, Dr Roger Williams invited the prominent Edinburgh based Duo, saxophonist Ian Millar and pianist Dominic Spencer to be the representatives of jazz in this year’s programme. The Lunchbreak’s often surprisingly eclectic selection of music has always been one of its special attractions and over the years, jazz has certainly not been neglected. Although this branch of music only came into existence at the beginning of the twentieth century, it has developed a stylistic compass almost as wide as any other musical genre; from solo players to big band music and although it can be divided into numerous compartments such as trad, modern, be-bop and experimental it could almost be claimed that every ensemble or performer creates their own particular genre.

This was certainly true of today’s duo because although their performance included a small number of “jazz standards” like Victor Young’s Weaver of Dreams for instance, most of the programme featured original compositions by saxophonist Ian Millar.

Not being in any way an expert in jazz myself, I can only report my own personal response to Thursday’s performance.

My first impression was how pleasantly relaxing and reviving this music was. I am always impressed too by how all jazz players have an uncanny supernatural ability to read one another’s minds in performance. Although improvisation plays an important part in jazz, its performers always manage to dovetail perfectly together and this was certainly the case with today’s expert duo.

Ian Millar’s own composition Morning Dew opened the performance, its lovely sinuous melody ranging freely from the heights to the depths of the tenor sax voice.

Victor Young’s Weaver of Dreams and If I Should Lose You by Rainger and Robins were just familiar enough to reveal something of the performers’ improvisatory techniques while Ian Millar’s own pieces were a thoroughly new experience.

There was a sense of gentle melancholy about Ballad for H. K. while Khamsin which we were told had an Egyptian inspiration certainly worked well as what used in the twenties and thirties to be called a “characteristic” piece. I liked the touches of pictorial good humour that came across in The Cat with the Torn Ear and the incisive liveliness of Midnight was splendid.

This was in many ways a unique performance not only in its introduction of many new pieces but also in the splendidly relaxed jazz styling; music that had its own special flavour and was not a copy of anything else.

Alan Cooper


REVIEW - Three Weeks Magazine

Jazz At Lunchtime
Ian Millar & Dominic Spencer

I'm sat in the candlelit cellar bar at the Radisson Hotel, having some lunch in front of two jazz musicians playing against a backdrop of the beautiful Scottish scenery. This is 'Jazz At Lunchtime', and I love it. Although I was slightly apprehensive about the use of footage from Glencoe, Pittenweem, and Edinburgh's very own Salisbury Crags (after all, jazz isn't often associated with heather and hairy Highland cattle), I thought it fitted in with the silky music surprisingly well. Millar and Spencer performed classic jazz standards as well as original compositions, and proved themselves to be extremley talented musicians. Very cool music played in a magical atmosphere - this will appeal to jazz novices as well as hardcore enthusiasts.
Rachel Gray, 11th August 2008

tw rating 4/5

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