Song of the Day: Jonathan Mills, “Calderazzish”

Drummer/composer Jonathan Mills’ full-length album debut reveals him a fearless and commanding bandleader.

Jonathan Mills is a consummate accompanist. Over the years, he has performed and collaborated with such acclaimed artists as George Cables, Grace Kelly and Brandon Boone, among many others. Currently based in Atlanta, Mills has also enjoyed an enduring and busy touring schedule with some of the best in the region. No Mentions, No Worries, which he self-released earlier this year, marks the drummer/composer/arranger’s debut full-length album. It reveals him as a fearless and commanding bandleader, leading a quintet with Luke Weathington on alto saxophone, Patrick Arthur on guitar, Tyrone Jackson on piano and Fender Rhodes, and Tommy Sauter on acoustic bass.

The record offers a program entirely made up of original works, showcasing the extent of Mills’ compositional prowess via a diverse and wide-ranging program. This is not coincidental, as No Mention, No Worries was intentionally designed as a collection of moods and thought journeys through life in today’s America. Ranging from heartfelt lullabies to more muscular pieces, its program blends many of Mills’ own interests in influences from the revered jazz tradition and some of its more contemporary branches.

“Calderazzish” is Mills’ homage to acclaimed pianist/composer Joey Calderazzo, whose works he deeply admires. You can listen to this track via the player below. Mills describes this original composition as a “thank you [to Calderazzo] for having written so many of my favorite modern jazz songs over the years, either with Michael Brecker, Branford Marsalis, or as a leader.” Achieving a fine balance of freedom and responsibility, what also transpires from this track is Mills’ joy of playing. His ability to challenge his fellow band members with his propulsive drive, while also creating plenty of breathing room, is equally noteworthy. The result leads to some compelling and boundary-exploring improvisation.

Jonathan Mills’ No Mentions, No Worries was released earlier this year and is available now. Order it here.

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