Hardcore funk and searingly modern jazz collide, and blossom, on this excellent debut by Andy Milne's Cosmic Dapp Theory. There are hints of Weather Report and Me'shell Ndegeocello, and even stronger hints of Milne's mentor, Steve Coleman. Yet Milne is his own man, distinguished not only by his sharp-edged piano and keyboard work, but also by his social and spiritual messages -- articulated here through the hip-hop, slam-style poetic asides of vocalist Kokayi.
One of the album's many surprises is a burning and highly personalized version of Joni Mitchell's "Free Man in Paris," featuring Vinia Mojica on vocals. Gregoire Maret's soaring harmonica solos on "Bermuda Triangle" and "The Phoenix Cycle" add a further layer of unpredictability. Milne's complex, M-Base-derived approach to funk is handled adeptly by bassist Rich Brown and drummer Mark Prince. (Patrice Blanchard is the bassist on "Free Man In Paris.") Guitarist (and co-producer) Sean Rickman burns it up on "The Millennium Bomb."
Not every track is a hands-down winner; "Strictly Stern" meanders a bit. But Andy Milne makes his mark as a sophisticated, high-energy performer with important things to say.