John Mills Times Ten and The Jon Blondell Quintet

Caffeine Dreams, and Alive! At the Elephant Room (Fable)

Texas Platters

John Mills Times Ten

Caffeine Dreams (Fable)

The Jon Blondell Quintet

Alive! at the Elephant Room (Fable)

Two longtime journeymen of the Austin jazz scene step forward on this pair of releases from local Fable Records. It's significant that reedman/composer/arranger John Mills, currently with UT's jazz studies department and a veteran of countless local bands, should specifically mention Joe Zawinul, Frank Zappa, and Michael Brecker as early influences. Rather than model his 10-piece big band after the innovative but decidedly old-school palettes of Duke Ellington and Gil Evans, Mills forges a far hipper aesthetic by channeling the latter-day modern visionaries in a dynamic group sound that crackles with energy. Think of a large band digging into the music of Weather Report and the Brecker Brothers and you get the picture. Mills has gathered a multigenerational ensemble composed of fellow Austin veterans alongside newly minted UT grads. Likewise, the repertoire of all Mills' originals is a mixture of older tunes, like "Flywheel" for the Creative Opportunity Orchestra, and brand new material. One of Caffeine Dreams' guests is venerated local trombonist Jon Blondell, who shines vibrantly throughout his own session, recorded live at his home base, the Elephant Room. The quintet date features UT vets Jeff Hellmer on piano and John Fremgen on bass, with youngbloods David Bowen on drums and guitarist Carter Arrington providing the pyrotechnics. The fare is mostly well-worn standards, but the playing is uniformly inspired and their refreshing take on the Doors' "Riders on the Storm" stands out.

(Caffeine Dreams) ****

(Alive! at the Elephant Room) ***

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Golden Dawn Arkestra
Children of the Sun (Record Review)

Michael Toland, June 1, 2018

Texas Platters
White Ghost Shivers
Need to Shake It (Record Review)

Kevin Curtin, June 1, 2018

More by Jay Trachtenberg
Bookmarked
Jay Trachtenberg's Top Reads of 2017
Four novels depict conflict and compassion in WWII Ukraine, present-day Pakistan and Israel, and a future America

Dec. 29, 2017

Top 10 National Albums of 2017
Top 10 National Albums of 2017
National themed lists

Dec. 29, 2017

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

John Mills Times Ten, The Jon Blondell Quintet

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2018

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle