Early in the new millennium a bass player named Mike Milligan landed in Ottawa and my good friend Wayne scooped him up right away and they immediately started gigging together. Mike was one of those curious doublebass players that could hold your attention all his own; heck, the guy even had a solo bass album out.
And of course Wayne Eagles was no slouch either (still ain’t). He’s one of those fusion-y kind of modal guitar players that can pull thousands of notes out of his instrument with a single, nearly immobile twitch of his right hand and just the slightest flurry of nearly imperceptible motion with his left. And they’re pretty much all good notes too! Anyway, Wayne and Mike got together to do an album with Dave Holland’s drummer Billy Kilson – somehow they came up with the name The Milligan-Eagles Project – and they promoted it with a concert at the theatre inside the National Library Archives on March 3rd, 2005.
I guess Kilson was only in town for the recording session because as the ticket states the drummer for this gig was Adam Nussbaum, who has a pretty impressive CV of his own, one that includes stints playing with Sonny Rollins, Stan Getz, and Michael Brecker to name a few. I remember the show opening with a solo piece from Mike in which he jammed an extra bridge into his bass strings and played it like a prepared piano. It was something I’d seen him do before and it always got a great response.
If I’m not mistaken the entire show got a good response and why not? With all that kind of talent thrown together how could anyone complain?
I still see Wayne socially once in a while – never as often as I’d like – but I haven’t seen or heard of Mike Milligan in a long, long time. Hopefully he’s playing great gigs somewhere, and still shoving that extra bridge up under his strings.