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Dapp Theory gigs at the Jazz estate on Friday night.
Dapp Theory gigs at the Jazz estate on Friday night.

Talking jazz with Andy Milne

Andy Milne is beyond just the leader, pianist /composer of the band Dapp Theory; jazz is his superpower. He has been described as a "superb pianist of undisguisedly jazz-rooted, Herbie Hancock-like fluency."

Milne’s prolific resume is not only impressive, but also a little daunting. Milne has gone where no man has gone before; he recently scored seven William Shatner-directed documentaries and in addition, he’s an accomplished educator and received several awards and commissions.

Dapp Theory’s music is intricate and engaging with multiple influences and thought provoking lyrics that make categorizing it a challenge. Their latest album, "Forward in All Directions," is a diverse collection of ten tracks that celebrates the band’s 15-year journey and Milne’s personal enthusiasm for his life’s multifaceted ambitions.

The band’s sax player, Aaron Kruziki is from Wisconsin, making their Milwaukee show on Friday, March 27 at The Jazz Estate a homecoming of sorts.

Milne generously imparts a Jazz 101 lesson, divulges details of his Shatner collaboration and praises MKE vegetarian culinary fare below.

Lindsay Garric: Andy, tell me everything you know about Jazz! (This is a serious question and kind of a "challenge.") You’re an educator, so if you had to welcome students to your own brand of Jazz 101 in a couple sentences, what would you say?

Andy Milne: Jazz is a musical art form/culture that strives to uphold the principles of a democratic society. Yes, there are stylistic markings associated with the music known as "jazz", however jazz is as much about its many styles as it is about the concepts. Improvisation, groove, swing, individuality, lyricism, exoticism, sincerity and polyphony can all be found in jazz music. It requires a liberated spirit to express it and it affords the listener the opportunity to liberate their spirit.

LG: I recently watched "Whiplash." Have you seen it? I don’t know why but, when I see young(er)(ish) people playing jazz I a…

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Sookie is who she is.
Sookie is who she is.

Can dogs suffer from mental illness?

This is a sensitive issue. My dog Sookie is not always "OK."

I often describe her as mentally ill. I admit this is more a term of endearment than a diagnosis from a professional. I do not say it in jest or with any disrespect to humans suffering with mental illness. I use the term to encapsulate Sookie’s behavioral challenges and people often giggle, but the popularity of "doggie Prozac," the emergence of pet behaviorists and even "psychologists," is evidence that pet mental health is a growing concern.

The question of weather a dog can actually be mentally ill is a controversial topic in veterinary medicine. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, "Mental illness is a condition that impacts a person’s thinking, feeling or mood and may affect his or her ability to relate to others and function on a daily basis." Sub the word "dog" for "person" and this describes my Sookie’s inability to engage in what are considered "normal" daily activities like going on a peaceful walks or relating genially with other dogs.

Cohabitating with a mentally unstable 65-pound Boxer is not always easy, but it resulted from only the most loving intentions. We rescued Sookie from the SPCA in 2011. I was looking for a workout partner, a big dog to jog, hike and walk endlessly with. I wanted a buddy to provide some protection and "intimidation factor." I desired an animal to hang out with me in the house while I work, that I could take to the dog park and sit at pet friendly outdoor cafes with. I wanted to travel with the lucky canine we would adopt. I decided I would even let her sleep in our bed. I was ready for a new member of our family.

I spent hours on rescue organization web sites searching. Then, one night I saw a photo of Sookie pop up on the local SPCA website. I fell in love with her goofy face, her direct gaze into the camera, the markings that made her look like she was wearing terribly applied black eye liner and lipstick. I know. Looks are a totally ina…

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Cover when you cough, mmmmkay?
Cover when you cough, mmmmkay?

My personal travel hell

I fear I am cultivating quite an expertise within the travel-writing niche of "rant."

I actually love to voyage beyond my normal, everyday life and I am endlessly grateful for my extremely bountiful opportunities to do so.

But these days, it is commonplace for travel to come saddled with all sorts of expected inconveniences and annoyances like delays, cancellations, lack of complimentary meals and snacks, oversold flights and overcrowding.

I'm my constant attempt at gratitude; I do try to let these little grievances slide. They are par for the course details that if you journey often, regrettably do happen. I smile through each set back, try to surrender and see the bigger picture. For example, I recently had the chance to reframe a small scheduling conflict as perhaps divine intervention resetting my course for my own protection.

Now, I acknowledge that my ability to complain about these minute nuisances stems from my own inherent craziness, unique personality flaws, social complexes and deeply held beliefs about propriety.

But there are some things that no human, no matter how much grace, patience or tolerance they possess can abide. There are some things that get the goat of even the Mother Theresa of airline passengers.

This recently happened to me – and I’m no Mother Theresa. I was assigned to seat 8b on a recent domestic flight that became what I like to refer to, as my personal travel hell.

Seat 8b is a middle seat, at the mercy of the aisle and window, which in and of itself, I don’t necessarily mind. In fact, I think middle seats are one of those sacrifices that some of us have to make. As a member of the 5’2 and under club, I feel it is almost my duty to take one for the team by volunteering myself as the proverbial meat in an airplane-seating sandwich.

Now, in defense of airlines inferior to Southwest that choose to use an assigned seating system, I recognize that I did indeed choose seat 8b myself from a seating chart - albeit blindly - d…

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The Paul Dietrich Quintet plays The Jazz Estate on Friday.
The Paul Dietrich Quintet plays The Jazz Estate on Friday.

Dietrich jazzes up an old genre

Jazz and youth are not mutually exclusive. Twenty-six-year-old jazz trumpeter and Wisconsin native, Paul Dietrich, is proof of that.

The Paul Dietrich Quintet’s first album, "We Always Get There," implies wisdom, experience and emotion that couldn’t possibly be contained in a 20-something’s wheelhouse. But, then there’s that cover of Bjork’s "Unravel" that reminds the listener that perhaps this is not your great-granddaddy’s jazz.

The modern jazz group formed in 2012 to showcase Dietrich’s small group writing. The band offers an accessible style that’s a fusion of influences like progressive rock, modern and classic jazz, contemporary classical music and folk and world styles. The band includes three more Wisconsinites: Dustin Laurenzi on tenor saxophone, Tim Ipsen on bass, Wisco-educated Andrew Green on drums and Paul Bedal on piano.

Dietrich, who went to college in Appleton and got his Master’s Degree at DePaul University in Chicago, now resides in Madison, where he is also an educator. Dietrich is a devoted Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks fan, which is not merely a way for the professional musician to show his home state team loyalty, but also provides an unintentional way for him to connect jazz with his leisure time.  

"I remember an interview I saw once with Phil Jackson, who is a jazz fan. He compared the two in a way I thought was cool; in both jazz and in basketball; you have a group of people who all know a particular system and they all work together and improvise to create something out of that system that is more successful than any of the individuals," he says. "So there's a bit of a team aspect to it, I guess."

It’s that cohesive ordering of seeming chaos that it is so impressive about jazz. Perhaps that sense of chaos is because of a current mainstream unfamiliarity with the genre, at least within a certain demographic. There is of course, an intense precision to a successful jazz composition, no doubt from the immense education …

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