Jazz at Lunchtime

The duo of Ian Millar on tenor and soprano saxes and Dominic Spencer on (electric) piano play a standards-based set at the Radisson Hotel every lunchtime (though, 12:30 is breakfast time for most fringe-goers surely?). In the darkened cellar bar, the music is accompanied by projections of Scottish landscapes, which they have filmed themselves.

Ian Millar is a saxophonist with a light tone in the cool-school mould of Mulligan, Getz and Desmond, and a gift for melodic improvisations that emerge organically from the written material. On soprano his microtonal inflections are particularly controlled and expressive, rendering In a Sentimental Mood, a highlight, affectingly dry and unsentimental. His two original compositions in the set are sophisticated pastoral affairs reminiscent of Andy Sheppard, and fit in neatly among the Monk, Rollins, Ellington and Porter standards.

Dominic Spencer however, without the support of a bass player, remains tethered by the left hand to an unadventurous lounge piano style; background jazz basically, which is a real shame considering the quality of his partner. The lack of a real piano doesn’t help either.

The projections don’t add much, and there is no attempt at any synthesis between them and the music. This is far from a Scottish suite or a multimedia artwork; as a concept it is in fact strikingly glib: nice music and nice pictures.

I had fishcakes with hand-cut chips and mayo, which were damn-near perfect, and maybe deserve their own entry in the Fringe programme. Also on offer are fresh soup, toasted sandwiches and pasta, and there’s a well-stocked bar. I expect a lot of people will come here for the food and the atmosphere, and on these at least, Jazz at Lunchtime cannot be faulted.

Since you’re here…

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The Blurb

After sell-out success in previous years, this contemporary saxophone & piano duo return, playing classic standards and originals in an intimate jazz club setting. Good food, good jazz, good atmosphere. Have lunch or just listen!

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