Cellar Live ***
A word for the clarity of the presentation in the lay-out here firstly, a much under-appreciated virtue. And in what must be a fairly rare inclusion in album artwork past or present there’s a sighting of Bird's signature, “in pencil”, as Mills captions in parenthesis, from the Massey Hall concert taken from an autograph book left to Mills by his dad. The unfussy way Vancouver label Cellar Live go about the business of putting out this record, their first, draws to mind the look of Criss Cross Jazz albums a bit, and for that matter as a record, Sweet Shadow is musically germane to Gerry Teekens’ approach. A quintet affair recorded in New Jersey at the beginning of 2013 led by tenor saxophonist Mills Sweet Shadow is mostly a showcase for his swinging and bluesy hard bop-grounded compositions. Included also are Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s ‘Serenade to a Cuckoo’; ‘The Star Crossed Lovers’ , covered successfully a lot in a range of 2013 releases; and the Jule Styne/Leo Robin song practically synonymous with Marilyn Monroe, ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’, a cheesier choice in theory but not so much in execution. Mills, joined by guitarist Pete McCann, pianist Erik Augis, bassist Martin Wind, and drummer Matt Wilson, deliver in their old fashioned joyful way a vintage sound lovingly lacquered and honed. Sit back and let it wash it all over you.