Some exclusive preview clips from the SHOPS CD...

cd artwork

To see the back & inside cover click on the thumbnails below.

Shops back cover

Shops inside cover


The new CD "Shops" now avilable!

Album Info

Press Quotes for SHOPS:

"Dave Milligan is one of the Scottish jazz world's modest stars, an almost carelessly-gifted eclectic... The themes are terrific, and so is the playing. An eccentric miniature, but a memorable and unique one."

"Virtuoso jazz with a human face: the Scottish pianist may possess a sterling technique, but his playing is shot through with quirky humour... the performances are jagged, aggressive and droll. Milligan finds a way of marrying bop propulsion with a genuine sense of folksiness."

"...the playing is crisp, tight, physical and often light-hearted... part benign hooliganism, part genius, part Sooty & Sweep Show and wholly a highlight.
But the point about this music is its universality. This is high-quality jazz piano trio music, whatever its derivation."

" of the most appealing discs to be released in this or any other year. An aural postcard that will transport anyone who knows the town of Tobermory to the heart of its community, and make those who don't want to go."

"Milligan's playing is consistently up there with the best that the current jazz scene has to offer. His sure sense of touch and improvisational invention is a constant feature, as is the positive energy and genuine group feel that the three musicians project. Shops is enjoyably quirky, sparkling, elegant and satisfying."

about the project....

Shops is a new CD of music written & performed by the Dave Milligan Trio.
It’s also about shops.

Commissioned by An Tobar, The Tobermory Arts Centre on the Isle of Mull, this stunning and unique collection of music is inspired by the life and identity of a small community, and the survival of it’s livelihood.

The great contemporary jazz piano trios have various characteristics in common. Great players bringing their own personality to a true group identity, a clear unified sense of focus, strong writing, a sense of groove and swing… and a great piano player. Arguably the most important characteristic is individuality - something distinctively 'theirs' that lifts them above a hundred or more valiant keepers of the jazz flame across the world.

Where this CD fits in on global league tables is kind of irrelevant, and even the question goes very much against the local grain of this music. But this second album from the Scottish based virtuoso pianist and his long-term trio is certainly unique and deeply individual. It is defiantly everyday and deliberately provincial, yet finds something profound, universal and moving in the banal, routine, and very specific.

An Tobar director Gordon Maclean's long term project of commissioning music to celebrate (or at least artistically process) life on Mull masterfully hides its deadly serious intent. That is to attempt something that is central to art's purpose - to make meaning out of reality in a way that is mercurial, irrational, and unpredictable. A process that, when honest, almost never fails to drill down to some truth below the surface, a truth that gets returned to us the audience by way of plugging directly into our senses and emotions.

Maclean’s seemingly unassuming and low-key pitch led the trio to initially think this project was a little lighthearted quirkiness - writing music about Tobermory shops - and they were swayed by the slightly nutty idea of performing in the shops themselves and spending a week in beautiful Tobermory. However, they rapidly found themselves involved in a project not really about shops, but about community, survival, and identity.

The performances in the shops were truly surreal - as the juxtaposition of art and the reality it came from often is - and in an understated way really quite wonderful. They started with an audience of two baffled old ladies under hair-drying machines in Catriona’s Unisex Hair & Beauty Salon and gathered an audience as the band lugged their gear along Tobermory’s seafront main street. They continued with performances in Tackle & Books, Browns Hardware Store, Duncan’s Outdoor Clothing Emporium and even Ronnie Leckie’s Art Shop & Gallery. The final concert of all the music at An Tobar itself at the end of the week’s project was inexplicably and profoundly emotional. Initially the band felt this was a specific local reaction to hearing music written about their own small town and its unsung strengths. But subsequently they were struck by how audiences everywhere responded to the stories behind the music and the themes and feelings they brought up.

This project is a writing collaboration featuring all three musicians’ compositions, including the soundscape and electronica skills of BBC Jazz Award winner Tom Bancroft who created some of the music out of location recordings in the shops and of the people there.

Dave Milligan is very much in demand as a musician in the Scottish folk scene - even to the previously unheard of point where as a jazz musician he has been nominated as Best Instrumentalist in the Scottish Traditional Music Awards. His working life and music is deeply soaked in Scottish music as well as the jazz tradition - from where you can hear everything from echoes of McCoy Tyner to hints of Jarrett, the looseness of Bobo Stenson to the folkiness of Mikhail Alperin.

'Shops' is genuinely a suite of tunes written about five Tobermory shops - but don't be fooled - there is much more musical material there than it suggests on the tin, and such a lot of incandescent piano lines to be woven around those fascinating threads.


Here's a few words from Gordon Maclean about it...

Tobermory through a jazz prism

It seemed like a crazy idea and, talking to the band, I could hear the doubts in their voices, but I really did want them to write music about the shops in Tobermory - all owned by local people and my mum worked in Browns when she left school.

They came for a week and got straight to work. After going round the shops, meeting everyone and having a haircut in Catriona’s, all this amazing music started to emerge. Tom B recorded myriad noises and conversations which he transformed into soundscapes to go with the various shops and by the end of the week it was all written, rehearsed and recorded - just in time to do a tour of Tobermory Main Street playing each piece in the shop it was written for.

High points were - Olive Brown telling a valued customer they’d have to come back later if they wanted to be served as she had a jazz trio performing in her shop (using a sink plunger and a coal scuttle from the stock as part of the drum kit) and the band sporting some very fetching fashion wear as they played in Duncan’s Clothes Emporium.

As if that wasn’t enough the musicians had also rehearsed and recorded six songs with local singers which became the first half of the concert in An Tobar featuring the premier performance of Shops.

I’d like to thank Dave and the Toms for some great times and this wonderful music which brilliantly reflects something special about our town.

This is the last of 3 An Tobar commissions about Tobermory from some of the country’s top jazz musicians – A Day For A Reason by The Burt MacDonald Sextet featuring Keith Tippett (dedicated to the Tobermory Town Clock), 3 Piers by Graeme Wilson’s Harbour Association Saxophone Quartet and now Shops by The Dave Milligan Trio.

Gordon Maclean – An Tobar Director

Read more at the An Tobar website