His name, face and music are extremely well known and recognized on the other side of the pond, but for many of us on this side of the globe, Duncan Millar's invigorating 2013 album Fresh Air, is simply what the title infers. Like a refreshing, rejuvenating breeze across the Atlantic, Millar is one of the freshest new sounds to hit the contemporary jazz charts in 2013. Before exploring his new release on his own record label, Warmday Records, it should be noted that the keyboardist/pianist is not unfamiliar with chart and worldwide success. He was one half of the U.K. pop-dance duo Blue Mercedes which had notable success on the Billboard Dance charts in the late 1980s, including their number one hit "I Want To Be Your Property". Millar late went on to produce dance tracks for other acts, before hitting the recording studio himself to record an acid jazz album and two smooth jazz records. With such an impressive resume and inarguable talent as a writer, producer, and musician, Millar gives the contemporary jazz genre a release of innovatively blended jazz, chill, and acid jazz overtones. Millar is simply brilliant in every aspect of the project with piano/keyboard melodies, arrangements and precision production talents, backed up and by an exceptional group of studio musicians who innovatively complement every one the 10 tracks on Fresh Air. The title song is fun, fresh, bouncy, and an ultimate 'feel good' and as close to pop music boundaries as smooth jazz can get, perhaps a tribute to Millar's own ingenuity and success in the pop-dance genre back in the day. Jacko Peake's mellifluous sax playing and the electronically altered vocals of Dennis Charles provide instant and endless enjoyment to Fresh Air. Some exotic Latin vibes take control of Buenas and Ilhabela, while Millar graciously opens to the door to the 'chill lounge' on several tracks including Belmondo and Cool Blue. Every track is meticulously arranged and self-produced by Millar and Fresh Air is intoxicating with a definitive mood and attitude. In fact, Fresh Air is so eclectically cool, it's literally hot.
Reviewed by Stu Berketo