Andy Milne is a talented keyboardist/composer best known as the bandleader for the creative Dapp Theory ensemble and the pianist in alto saxophonist Steve Coleman's M-Base group. He's a flexible, resourceful player, comfortable in the most demanding of situations.
Dreams and False Alarms is his first solo piano album and it's a good one. Milne eschews any overt display of technique and focuses on getting to the emotional heart (if in a decidedly personal way) of a combination of original compositions and cover tunes. Like so many adventurous young pianists (Brad Mehldau, Ethan Iverson Craig Taborn, Jason Moran, and George Colligan) Milne pulls his covers from the contemporary canon, culling from the works of pop icons like Bob Dylan, Bob Marley and Sting, as well as fellow Canadians Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. He has a distinct way of distilling elements from a disparate range of material into one coherent statement.
By taking a vigorous two-handed approach, Milne is as able to bring a vein of anger to Young's “After the Goldrush” as he is to imbue Sting's “Message in a Bottle” with a sense of delicate mystery. Marley's “I Shot the Sheriff” is my personal favorite; a darkly brooding meditation that manages to stay funky.
Andy Milne is significant artist who isn't hamstrung by restrictive definitions of what his music needs to be. Dreams and False Alarms walks both sides of the highbrow/pop cultural street with equal dexterity.