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Free Jazz and Improvised Music

FM39  Mosaique
Greg Mills
1. For Berio 8:59
2. For Messiaen 7:48
3. For Carter 1 4:53
4. For Carter 2 2:20
5. For Xenakis 7:09
6. For Takemitsu 7:04
7. For Stockhausen 9:38
8. For Babbitt 7:11
9. For Lutoslawski 7:47

Total time: 62:49

Recorded February 7, 2016
At The Tavern Of The Fine Arts, St. Louis
Special thanks to Aaron Johnson
Recording & Mastering: Tazu Marshall
Produced by: Jay Zelenka/Freedonia Music
Cover Art: photograph of Sibelius Monument, Helsinki
Sculpture by Finnish artist Eila Hiltunen
Special thanks to Katherine Rynor for allowing use of her original photo © 2016

©(P) 2016 Greg Mills/Freedonia Music
All rights reserved.
Made in St. Louis USA.

Greg Mills: Piano
Improvised music allows for endless possible formings and forms. Among my favorite modern composers are those who have inspired me to improvise within structures suggested by my experience of their compositions. Sometimes this has resulted in a specific piece and at other times a larger body of work. I would characterize this current collection, MOSAIQUE, as nine free improvisations, each within a unique structure suggested by these following ideas, instructions or contemplations:

Berio was inspired by Sequenzas, his masterpiece collection of virtuoso solo works written for a variety of instruments. Messiaen explores dense chordal and arpeggiated structures with made-to-order bird calls. Carter 1 and Carter 2 were suggested by several of his late piano pieces written while the composer was in his nineties. The first deals with meander- ing diads having stark linear improvisa- tions above and below the chords. The 2nd is a perpetuum mobile with no pedaling. Xenakis’ instructions are: “Divorce yourself from the human impulse of melody, harmony and rhythm and let the constellations be your guide.” Takemitsu also has written instructions: “Immerse yourself in a Japanese garden. Realize the power of solace as water flows down a stream”. Stockhausen is inspired by two of his Klavierstucke. Instructions for the first part of this improvisation are: “Play a chosen chord repeatedly; play a chosen note repeatedly. Improvise around these fixed occurrences.” The second half is played wearing gloves in order to play cluster glissandi safely. Babbitt is a pointillistic piece that attempts to not favor any one pitch, register, dynamic, attack or specific interval. There is a judicious use of all three pedals. The last piece Lutoslawski was inspired by his 2nd Symphony. The first part of this improvisation, Hesitant, is meant to suggest forms whereas the second part, Direct, is meant to realize forms, creating complete statements.

--Greg Mills

Greg Mills

Greg Mills studied classical piano performance at the St.Louis Institute of Music and privately with Gail Delente and Jules Gentils. Mentored in jazz performance and theory by St.Louis Black Artist Group bassist Carl Arzinia Richardson, he gigged with Richardson performing jazz standards as the duo Epoxy in the mid 1970's. In the late 1970's he was associated with James Marshall's Human Arts Ensemble.

In 1980 Mills teamed up with Jay Zelenka and for the next ten years performed and recorded as the multi-instrumental improvising duo EXILES, amalgamating influences of the musical cultures of India and Africa with free improv and elements of the Euro-classical avant-garde. Exploring exotic tunings and extended raga-like duet performances for kalimba led Mills to adapt the Indian raga form to piano, creating a unique body of work in performances and recordings. During this time Mills pursued interests in mallet keyboards, drum set, percussion and began developing what is today a virtuoso command of the melodica, a wind keyboard usually treated as a novelty instrument.

In 2015 Mills co-founded the Perihelion groups (trio, quartet, and ensemble), and curated a series of performances for solo improviser (Soliloquy) and duo improvisation (Just The Two Of Us). As leader of the Perihelion groups, Mills organized numerous public performances in 2015-2016 while recording his solo work, Mosaique, A Day At The Circus (Perihelion Quartet), Triopolis (Perihelion Trio), Duets and New Music for Clarinet and Piano with Eric Mandat. In 2017 Mills continued his prolific output, recording KUVUKA as one half of The Glen"Papa" Wright Greg Mill Duo and a new solo work, The Dark Passenger. All of these recordings appear on the Freedonia Music imprint.

Throughout his thirty plus years of public performance, free improv on solo piano has been his mainstay while continuing to explore directed or structured approaches to improvisation as diverse as ragas and tone rows. Mills says his work is "about the continuing discovery and exploitation of new approaches to improvised music and the development of new techniques for improvising on the piano."
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