Ross Milligan,
Passing Places
(Timecube, 2006)

His playing is understated, yet it speaks volumes about a dazzlingly musical mind, and I'm delighted to have come across Ross Milligan's debut album. Passing Places is an outstanding contemporary collection of original compositions for electric and acoustic guitar revealing the finest ear for melody, each composition rich in detail, emotion and expression. Arrangements are musically very generous, with the core musicians giving each other ample space. Milligan is joined by first-rate musicians Paul Harrison (piano), Brian Shiels (bass) and Alyn Cosker (drums). Their playing supple and fluid, they communicate wonderfully.

A beautifully ranging, compositionally very "complete" album, it embraces the gamut of jazz stylings. Milligan quite simply gets it right every time, properly focusing on lyricism, nuance, drama, emotion and rhythm.

The 13 tracks offer so much: "White Vans Make the World Go Round" sees the banjo in a most unusual jazz setting, and the interplay with Martin Kershaw's saxophone is excellent. There's the folk-tinged "Rivers Run," the album's only vocal track. "Time Cube" is angular and dramatic, whilst the superb "Three Wishes" builds steadily and climactically, giving way to a stunningly melodic guitar solo.

The "quieter" tunes are often breathtaking in their simplicity, resonant with detail, but always ambient and evocative. You just couldn't fault "The Silence of Winter," or "Counting the Hours," or the exquisite "Passing Places," a gorgeously poised, reflective piece.

Anyone interested in musical "connections" won't be surprised to learn that Scots-born Ross is jazz pianist David Milligan's brother. This is beautiful music to be enjoyed and revisited -- I recommend this to anyone who appreciates good music in any genre.

by Debbie Koritsas
30 September 2006

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