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GUEST,Obie Scott MacMillan turns 50 (3) Scott MacMillan turns 50 25 Apr 05

Scott MacMillan, a composer of everything from classical to celtic,and a fantastic guitar player besides turns the half century. This was in yesterdays paper.
Happy birthday Scott!!

Sunday, April 24, 2005 Back The Halifax Herald Limited

One of Canada's busiest musicians Scott Macmillan plays guitar as he leads members of the Stadacona Band during rehearsals last week. On Monday he celebrates turning 50 with the debut of Scott 'n' the Rocks, which performs on Monday at 8 p.m. in the Dunn Theatre with a special improvised performance by silk painter Holly Carr. The group, which has been rehearsing since November will perform compositions by Macmillan and Chris Mitchell.

Freedom 50 for Macmillan
Busy musician creates 'newest little big band' Scott 'n' the Rocks as birthday gift

Scott Macmillan turns 50 on Monday.

To celebrate the milestone, he has started up what he calls "Halifax's newest little big band," Scott 'n' The Rocks. They perform in the Dunn Theatre Monday night with guest artist, silk-painter Holly Carr.

"Getting the Rocks together is a sort of birthday present to myself," Macmillan said in an interview last week. "In a way it's a re-incarnation of my Eleventet back in the '80s."

When things eased up a bit last November for Macmillan, one of Canada's busiest musicians, he decided to do his own thing.

Rather than writing arrangements for other groups, like the 136-plus arrangements he has written for various Maritime artists to perform on Symphony Nova Scotia's Maritime Pops series and to celebrate other occasions like last summer's Congres mondiale acadien, he went back to his Eleventet charts, found about six he still liked, reworked them, and added several more new ones.

"This time around there are a lot more resources in terms of musical talent available," Macmillan said, "more experienced players and wider contacts - like the good contacts I now have with Stadacona Band."

"I'm not totally free in writing arrangements for others," he said. "It's like hanging clothes on a clothesline. With the Rocks, creatively I'm free."

So free, in fact, that he can sit at the piano, decide something completely arbitrary, like closing his eyes and playing two notes - whatever comes in the very next moment - accept them no matter what they are and make those notes the basis of a new piece.

"The first time I tried it wasn't just two notes. An 11 or 12 note row just came out. I used it as a melody and even generated chord progressions from it. I'm used to progressive jazz and progressive Celtic music but I was looking for another way. Once you find the notes it becomes a structural germ - lines can be generated from it."

Rhythmic ideas also came from strange places. In a tune called The Bike Ride the rhythms came from watching the rhythms of his feet on the pedals and how they changed when he changed gears.

"That kind of game playing can be helpful," he said.

Holly Carr plays a similar kind of game - improvising her painting to the music. She and Macmillan teamed up last year at the TD Canada Trust Atlantic Jazz Festival and also for a couple of concerts in the New Music/New Places project inspired by the Canada Music Centre last October.

Scott 'n' the Rocks is almost the same size band as the Eleventet. It includes Chris Mitchell, Mitch Leblanc, Omar Bergson and Jeff Goodspeed on saxes, John Cuming and Matt Myer on trumpets, Simon Oakie and Pierre deVilliers on trombones, Dave Staples on keyboards, Macmillan on guitar, Jamie Gatti on bass and Dave Burton sharing drum charts with Duncan Macmillan.

Over the years, Macmillan has teamed up with just about every musical act in the province. After graduating from Humber College's jazz program, he worked with Bob Quinn on studio sessions, toured for two or three years with Rita MacNeil in the mid-'80s, became fascinated by the interaction of classical musicians with Celtic musicians and started the highly regarded Octet with wife Jennyfer Brickenden with whom he also wrote his often-performed Celtic Mass For The Sea. He has celebrated festivals in Cheticamp with exciting symphony orchestra concerts, has recorded blues guitar duos with Dave MacIsaac, and three Minnie Sessions CDs with various Cape Breton musicians. He was also a staple performer at the Pier 21 CBC Kitchen Parties five years ago, and has delighted fans at the Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival with his agile picking of fiddle tunes.

On his website (, he composes a tune a month formatted in a free downloadable file.

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