Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Miller, Harry (Frederick)
Miller, Harry (Frederick), pianist, synthesist, composer, producer; b. St. Louis, MO, 8 February 1962. His mother is Dolores Herron (b. 1929) and his father is James David Miller (b. 1930). His sisters are Valerie (b. 1956) and Lucia (b. 1959). His cousin John Loehrke (b. circa 1953) is an acoustic bassist active on NYC jazz scene.
Early on Harry chose to play sports over taking piano lessons. Eventually, however, he was drawn to the sound of the keyboard, after brief experimentations with the snare drum, trombone, and cello in school bands. After beginning piano studies at age 15 with the highly respected St. Louis pianist Ken Palmer, Harry started composing at the age of 16, having his tunes performed by small groups, big bands and an orchestra. He graduated University City High School in 1980, and was voted "Most Musical" in his class. Harry played in the St. Louis area during this time with the bands Chocolate City Express, Horizon, Mirage, the Washington University Jazz Big Band, Quintessence, Melvin Turnage, and the St Louis All-Metro Jazz Band and Orchestra. Miller moved to Boston in 1980 to attend Berklee College of Music, where he studied theory with Mike Metheny, piano with Michael Marra and Dick Odgren, 20th century music with Stephanie Plzek, and arranging for large ensemble with Mike Gibbs, who was a strong influence on Miller's composing style. He also studied at the Creative Music Studio near Woodstock, NY in 82/83 with Pat Metheny, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland, Steve Gorn, Karl Berger, Paulo Moura, Olatunji, and Nana Vasconcelos. In addition, he studied privately with pianist/composer Lyle Mays, who is a major musical inspiration. During the early 80's, Miller began performing original music with his band at Boston area venues including Ryle's, 1369, The Willow, Jack's, Berklee Performance Center, Pooh's Pub, The Western Front, as well as live performance broadcasts and interviews on local Boston radio stations. The band varied in size from four to eight musicians, and they made several studio recordings during this time. Since his arrival in New York City in 1984, Harry has played in a wide variety of settings including jazz, rock, funk, reggae, African, wedding bands, cruise ships, piano bars, modern dance accompaniment, experimental, musical theatre, and devotional chanting music of India. In addition to having worked as a sideperson in a large number of musical groups, Harry has continued to lead his own band with regular appearances. The group has performed at NYC area venues such as Kavehaz, The Underground Lounge, Clifton Arts Center, St. Paul's Church, 55 Bar, Trumpets, Beantowne Coffeehouse, Arabica Coffeehouse, Visiones, Mikells, 7th Avenue South, Secret Road Inn, and "Five & Ten No Exaggeration". Some of the musicians Miller has performed or recorded or "sat-in" with, or who have performed or recorded or "sat-in" as guests of his group, include: Greg Osby, Ralph Moore, Jean Toussaint, Mike Stern, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Jerome Harris, Arto Tuncboyacian, Slide Hampton, Ted Curson, Paul Motian, Phoebe Snow, Michael Urbaniak, Jeff Andrews, Cindy Blackman, DK Dyson, Allan Zavod, Jody Espina, Avi Bortnick, Terri Lyne Carrington, and others. In 1996 and 97, Harry lived in a meditation ashram and assisted in musically supporting a meditation tour with a highly regarded Guru from India, both on retreat in South Fallsburg, NY, and on tour in Spain, Poland, England, Australia, and New Zealand. In 1998, Miller was the house bandleader on Oprah Winfrey's "Tribute to Maya Angelou" cruise, where he performed with Ashford & Simpson, BB Winans, Jolie and Quincy Jones, and Odetta. Harry has traveled extensively on his musical journeys, having visited over 70 nations. In 2002 and 2003, Harry was hired as the pianist in trumpet legend Maynard Ferguson's Big Bop Nouveau Band. Harry toured extensively with Ferguson over a seven month period, performing 100 concerts and numerous educational workshops with the veteran bandleader.
Open House (1988); Paradox Fossils (1993); Harry Miller Trio - Live at the Museum (1998); Jazz Beauty Supply (2002)
Enid Ames: Got to Dive In (1998); Louis Greenrainbow Mofsie and the Silvercloud Singers (as producer, early 90s)
Approximately 50 to 75 hours worth of recordings of unreleased original material recorded at live performances of Harry's groups exists, mostly on cassette format.
He has contributed musically to several SYDA Foundation meditation audio and video recordings (from 1995 through 1997) including "Om Guru Jaya Guru", "Shri Gurudeva Sharanam", "Om Namo Bhagavate Muktanandaya", "Inner Treasures", and others