Jonathan Mills, No Mentions, No Worries Review

Jazz Reimagined: A Journey Through Modern America in Jonathan Mills' No Mentions, No Worries


Jonathan Mills, No Mentions, No Worries Review

Jazz Reimagined: A Journey Through Modern America in Jonathan Mills’ No Mentions, No Worries

by Nolan DeBuke

jonathan-mills-cd The bravura of a musician can be perceived in both their virtuosity and the company they keep. On both fronts, Atlanta-based Composer, Arranger, and Drummer, Jonathan Mills, makes a bold impression. Having shared stages with George Cables, Grace Kelly, and Harold Betters, Mills has woven an intriguing tapestry of experience. This amalgamation of influences has coalesced into his debut full-length album, No Mentions, No Worries. It’s a rich auditory exploration that invites listeners into the intricate labyrinth of his creative psyche, manifesting in nine beautifully crafted tracks. The album carries a heavy burden of expectation, owing to the prodigious talent Mills has surrounded himself with—Luke Weathington on Alto Saxophone, Patrick Arthur on Guitar, Tyrone Jackson on Piano & Fender Rhodes, and Tommy Sauter on Acoustic Bass. These artists, with their unique gifts, help bring to life a journey that is as introspective as it is exploratory, a testament to Mills’ contemplations on contemporary American life.  No Mentions, No Worries is conceived in the crucible of jazz tradition and its modern offshoots. However, it never loses sight of the universality of human experience, a mosaic of moods and mental meanderings, waiting to be unveiled.

The title track, “No Mentions, No Worries,” showcases a blend of continuity and transformation. The track demonstrates a nuanced fusion of traditional jazz with a fresh, contemporary twist inspired by Fly Trio and Grüt, the local Atlanta fusion band. The time-bending, funky groove, initially designed for a chordless trio, morphs throughout the song, symbolizing the ongoing transformation in jazz and the ebb and flow of modern life.

“Wait For It” is another testament to Mills’ knack for fusion. The song moves from influences from The Roots to Robert Glasper’s harmonic structures, finally arriving at a West African folkloric section. It’s a journey through different cultural musical expressions, reflecting the rich tapestry of contemporary American life.

Both pieces demonstrate a profound exploration of internal and external life translated through music. “No Mentions, No Worries” melodies and song form mirrors the shapeshifting quality of life, reflecting the fluctuating moods and thought processes. “Wait For It” takes listeners through a musical journey that mirrors the process of navigating through life’s challenges and finding inner peace, offering hope and solace through music represented by the composition’s shifting harmonies. This narrative thread ties the album together and connects it to the more extensive human experience, making it an engaging and profound listening experience.

No Mentions, No Worries builds on the power of music as a means of self-expression and a conduit for cultural dialogue. The album navigates the complexities of life, communicated via the vibrant dialect of jazz. Here, traditional and modern elements are interwoven, creating a compelling socio-musical dialogue that reflect the American energy. Each track serves as a narrative chapter, highlighting both the composition’s intellectual rigor and the lived experience’s emotional resonance.

Mills invites a journey through the nuances of modern American life— its challenges, joys, quiet contemplations, and vibrant expressions. With No Mentions, No Worries Mills successfully captures the pulse of the contemporary moment while paying homage to the deep roots of the jazz tradition, leaving listeners with no worries, whether we mention them or not, but solidly leaving us with a deep appreciation for his musical artistry.

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