Pianist, composer and bandleader Tom Millar plays Chichester Jazz Club on October 20 as part of a tour to promote his debut album.
Unnatural Events launched in September at the Pizza Express Jazz Club, Soho.
The quartet plays Tom’s original music, inspired by places and people that are important to him. The line-up features Misha Mullov-Abbado on bass, Alex Munk on guitar and Dave Story on drums.
The album was released on independent jazz label Spark! and was recorded with funding from an Emerging Excellence Award (Help Musicians UK), the Jazz Services’ Recording Support Scheme and a successful crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter.
Tom was born in Sydney, Australia and grew up in London. After reading music at King’s College Cambridge, he studied jazz piano and composition at the Royal Academy of Music, London and with Django Bates in Bern, Switzerland.
“I was born in Australia, but I was only there for a few months. My dad is half-Australian, and my parents lived there for seven years, and then they moved back to England.
“I grew up in Wandsworth in south-west London. I was about four or five when I started playing the piano. We moved house, and the owners of the house left their upright piano in the house, and I just started playing it.
“My parents then thought it would be a good idea to get me some lessons, and I then really got into playing the piano. It was great fun. I just played it because it was there. I played some other instruments growing up, but the nice thing about the piano is that it is a very good instrument to compose on. You have got a huge range and you can play ten-note chords potentially. You can play a great classical repertoire, and the role of the piano in jazz is also very special. It is just really a complete instrument.
“I was quite an avid listener to jazz from the age of about 13, and I think even before that. One of my first albums was Relaxin’ by the Miles Davis Quintet. There is a track where someone says ‘I’ll play it first and tell you what it is later.’ I was playing classical piano off sheet music, and it just blew my mind that someone could say that and this beautiful music comes out of the ensemble.
“I then went to Cambridge to read music. Quite a lot of musicians go there to sort out whether they want to go down the composing route or jazz or classical or chamber. It is a good place to have three years to explore what direction you want to go. When I was there, I decided I wanted to do jazz. I think I was just doing some nice gigs, meeting some nice people.”
And now comes the debut album: “I have been working mostly as a sideman until now. It’s lovely to be working as a band leader.”
Chichester Jazz Club meets at the Pallant Suite. All meetings start at 7.45pm.