DiVoM is an eclectic and progressive jazzy funk (i.e. "Junk) instrumental power trio that covers the spectrum from moody and introspective soundscapes to high energy rocking and funky grooves. The group playfully melds jazz, funk, rock, pop, blues, r&b, gospel, roots, reggae and even klezmer to create a style all their own. The band performs all original tunes by founder David Vincent Mills featuring Mills' funky, feel-good, and at times virtuosic piano and keyboard skills. In addition to the traditional instrumentation of keyboards, bass and drums, the band remains up-beat and whimsical with their spontaneous use of unexpected instruments such as melodica, harmonica, toy piano, glockenspiel and toys (horns, bells and whistles!!!). Mills' tunes are layered with a jazz structure but maintain a pop accessibility that are painted with a wide palette of foot tapping rollicking rhythms, mesmerizing melodies and hypnotic harmonies from around the world to create a groove orientated adventure that takes one on a rousing ride! DiVoM appeals to fans of jazz, funk, and/or jam bands who listen to Medeski Martin & Wood (MMW), The Bad Plus, Esbjorn Svensson Trio (E.S.T.), Cinematic Orchestra and Phish.
The album 'Underneath' presents 11 original tunes composed and produced by David Vincent Mills who was featured on keyboards, organ, synthesizer programming, toy piano, melodica, harmonica, glockenspiel, percussion, auxiliary percussion and toys (horns, bells, and whistles). The album also features the Los Angeles critically acclaimed bassist Baba Elefante on 5 string fretless F bass and upright, who was nominated as one of the nation’s top bass players in a Bass Player Magazine poll, and Craig Bunch on drums, percussion and auxiliary percussion, who is the current drummer for Captain Beefheart's 'The Magic Band'.
Underneath Liner Notes by Scott Yanow
David Vincent Mills is a pianist and composer with wide musical tastes and talents. Whether playing straight ahead jazz or free improvisations, working as a studio musician or writing soundtracks, his likable musical personality can be felt in every project.
Underneath is the recording debut of his band DiVoM, and it should delight fans of both funky jazz and jazzy funk. “The challenge with this music,” says David, “is utilizing a fairly simple chord structure and making it as interesting as possible. It can actually be more challenging to use a minimalistic harmonic structure than to use a new chord every couple beats, and it can be a lot of fun, too.” Fun is a key word in describing the performances on Underneath, not only for the musicians but for the listeners, especially those who may be inspired to dance to the often-rollicking music.
For the project, David utilized two well-respected and versatile sidemen. “I’ve worked with bassist Baba Elefante and drummer Craig Bunch for over 15 years, but independently of one another. I knew that they would work well together.” Baba Elefante, in addition to working in the studios, has played with such notables as trumpeter Roy Hargrove and saxophonists Pete Christlieb and Justo Almario. “Baba has a really good feel and his soloing is amazing! He treats the bass as a melodic instrument.” Drummer-composer Craig Bunch has performed with rock, funk and world music groups in addition to the adventurous jazz of Wadada Leo Smith and Vinny Golia. “Craig treats the drums like an orchestra. He takes his instrument beyond the typical drum sound and style. His approach is textual, and he creates a wide variety of timbres and sounds.”
David Vincent Mills contributed all 11 selections on Underneath. He is heard on electric piano, organ, melodica, harmonica, glockenspiel, percussion, auxiliary percussion, toys and even a whimsical toy piano.
The set begins with “Stomp,” a laid-back strut that has a catchy melody, brief solo spots for bass and drums, and a feel-good atmosphere. The tightness of the trio is obvious throughout “Bumpin’,” a very danceable number that shows off some fine keyboard and bass solos along with stimulating rhythms from Craig.
“Roslyn’s Cafe” is a moody piece that evolved gradually over time. David’s harmonica plays the main melody before the band jumps into an infectious funk groove. This is one of several originals on which the title has pop culture references. “’Roslyn’s Cafe’ comes from Northern Exposure, a show that I really liked when I was younger. On the show, viewers see the sign of Roslyn’s Cafe outside but they never get to enter the café. This song is my interpretation of what it might have been like inside.”
In honor of Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe, the brooding “Answer 42” received its name because the song’s form is 42 bars long. The band achieves a light fusion feel on this piece. David displays his winning personality on electric piano while Baba and Craig follow his ideas closely, adding colors and a funky swing to the ensemble. David calls “T.O.E. (Theory Of Everything)” a power ballad because it is both thoughtful and rockish, building up to a passionate level.
“Mr. Purple” explores several moods, tempos and rhythms, really cooking during its last section. “‘Mr. Purple” imaginatively represents the illusive Mr. Purple, who was mentioned but never actually appeared in the movie Reservoir Dogs.” “Jabberwookiee” uses memorable riffs and builds up to some particularly colorful ensemble grooves.
“Mazel Bop” is a real change of pace, a Klezmer funk swing piece that combines several different idioms of music, forming a different type of dance music. “Off The Cuff” has a menacing but catchy bass pattern that serves as the basis for the piece; Baba is well featured throughout the performance. "Absinthe” features the trio exploring several different time signatures; it may present a bit of challenge for dancers, but listeners will enjoy this one. The album concludes with the title cut, a moody and introspective minor-keyed jazz waltz.
David Vincent Mills, born in a suburb of Detroit and growing up in Southern California, experienced jazz early on. His father, a professional visual artist, played trumpet in the Army and loved jazz, particularly the West Coast cool school of Chet Baker and Gerry Mulligan. David had both jazz and classical piano lessons, studied with Clare Fischer, and also learned the trumpet. After college he became a full-time musician, performing in many different styles and settings, always displaying his own musical personality. In addition to appearing as a sideman and working in tstudios, he recorded a solo live piano album in 2008 in honor of Keith Jarrett. In recent years, he has become interested in the funkier side of jazz.
In addition to the music of DiVoM on Underneath (which he humorously calls “Junk,” short for jazzy funk), David Vincent Mills leads the jazzy funk power duo consisting of keyboards and drums “Sticks & Bones,” a classic jazz trio and quartet, and a trio that turns rock and pop tunes into jazz. Also, he performs with Craig Bunch and bassist Daren Burns as 3 Squares, a progressive jazz trio that features original works; the Zoetrope Orchestra, a group that performs original live scores to silent films; the Mighty Minstrels (a collaboration with poets) and his circus band named Sporkbender Orchestra.
Looking ahead, David Vincent Mills says, “I look forward to touring nationally and abroad to reach a wider audience with DiVoM.” The infectious and grooving music of Underneath achieves its goals: creative, colorful and, most of all, fun.
Scott Yanow, author of 11 books including The Great Jazz Guitarists, The Jazz Singers, Jazz On Film and Jazz On Record 1917-76.
David Vincent Mills - Composer, Producer, Keyboards, Organ, Synthesizer Programming, Toy Piano, Melodica, Harmonica, Glockenspiel, Toys (Horns, Bells, and Whistles), Percussion and Auxiliary Percussion
David Vincent Mills is a composer, improviser, and performer whose roots are in jazz and classical music as he studied both piano and trumpet from a young age. In his early teens, David began studying with renowned pianist and composer Clare Fischer. Later in life he has broadened his palette to include all Western musical styles and various musical genres of the world. Today he is interested in free-form improvising as well as using original compositions as a launching pad for improvisation, tapping into an assortment of musical genres and discovering the common ground within the juxtaposition of those genres.
Mills has performed throughout the world, including the Montreux Jazz Festival and the Playboy Jazz Festival and has opened up for Chick Corea and Lionel Hampton. He has also toured with American Idol's Kimberley Locke and has shared the stage with Eric Marienthal and Bobby Shew. In a review of his CD "Have We Met?" with Daren Burn's and his band 3 Squares, Jerome Wilson of Cadence magazine wrote, "David Vincent Mills' piano has some of Carla Bley's simple and elemental style."
David also works as a composer creating jingles for radio, soundtracks for videos, audio books, television and original songs for his independently released CDs. In addition, Mills has been a studio musician as well as a producer for numerous recording artists in the genres of jazz, rock, and folk. His most current project, the band DiVoM features his compositions in the style of what Mills' coins as 'junk' i.e jazzy funk. A debut album 'Underneath' of DiVoM will be released spring of 2013.
Baba Elefante - 5 String Fretless F bass and Upright
Baba Elefante is a bassist and composer who was voted one of the nation's top bass players in a Bass Player Magazine poll. His studio work spans television, movies and records including the 1995 Universal movie "The Hunted"." Baba has performed with jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove, saxophonists Pete Christlieb and Justo Almario, vocalist Michael Sweet, "Yes" keyboardist Patrick Moraz, Lee Osker Band and "Kansas" lead vocalist John Elefante.
Craig Bunch - Drums, Percussion and Auxiliary Percussion
Craig Bunch is a composer, improviser, and performer who has a diverse musical range of styles from many different influences, including jazz, rock, funk, and music of the world, in which he draws into his composing and his playing. Bunch is a versatile drummer who not only lays down a solid groove, but treats the drum set like an orchestra, utilizing the full spectrum of timbres and textures available to him in his playing. This ability to capture the full range of the voice of the drum set adds to the depth of his free-form improvising. He has toured worldwide in various groups, most notably with John ‘Drumbo’ French of Captain Beefheart, and has performed with the Magic Band, Wadada Leo Smith, Vinny Golia, John ‘Drumbo’ French, and Geron Davis among others.