Opening the concert tonight was Italian pianist Fabio Giachino, who had last attended the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, with his trio, three years ago. A powerful and lyrical jazz pianist-composer, throughout tonight’s solo set Giachino gradually introduced electronic beats, something he described as having turned to during periods of covid isolation and which to this listener sounded like an interesting work in progress.
Following the interval, it was the Scots’ turn: pianist David Milligan and saxophonist Norman Willmore presented in duo some of their recent compositions. Both having an interest and expertise in both roots music and jazz, the result was an unqualified success and a complete delight.
Starting with “a wee polska” by Willmore reportedly based on a Norwegian bagpipe tune, his breathy, slightly hoarse style, together with the use of electronic echoes was gorgeously supported by Milligan. In contrast the next tune was Milligan’s accurately-named composition ‘Spiky’, in which lovely interplay between the two preceded some all too brief, pleasantly off-piste piano from Milligan as well as some lovely Scottish motifs.
The set proceeded cordially, the duo alternating their compositions. Milligan’s were characteristically lyrical and lovely, with the occasional nod to Robert Burns, both his deep Scottish folk sensibility and his accomplished jazz intelligence equally evidenced. Willmore’s were bursting with ideas and often referenced his island home.
Closing piece by Willmore had the duo playing over a percussion backing track that Wilmore had previously recorded, the tapping on his saxophone mimicking the clacking of a spinning wheel.
In fact, the only complaint from this listener was that the set didn’t last longer. Gentlemen: more please!