Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Miller, Jim (James Donald)
His mother (born Georgieanna Oyler, 1927; father 1923-1952) insisted on piano lessons from age six; at age 12 the "music nun" moved him to drums because no one else exhibited any natural proclivity toward becoming the scapegoat in the school's traditional losses at district band contests. Falling in love with the drums immediately, he demonstrated his interest and gratitude by liberating a pair of drumsticks from school, using them at home to break the heads on some Emenee bongos, and took private snare drum lessons with Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra percussionist Jack Wagley. Playing professionally by 1970, after dropping out of college (Butler University, 1971-1972) to go on the road throughout the Midwest with a stylistic variety of original-material bands, he moved to Florida for a year (1973-1974), and the chance opportunity of playing with Ira Sullivan there accelerated his burgeoning interest in jazz. Returning briefly to Indianapolis, Miller studied informally at drum clinics with John Von Ohlen, J. C. Heard, Ed Shaughnessy and Alan Dawson, and went back out on the road. After choosing Philadelphia as his permanent home base in 1977, he was leader/cofounder for the "electro-jazz" group Reverie, which released four collections of original material in the ten-plus years of its performances at festivals, clubs and colleges from New England to Florida; through his long-term associations with saxophonist Denis DiBlasio, pianist Eddie Green and vocalist Suzanne Cloud, as a sideman he has backed Larry Coryell, Johnny Coles, Al Grey, Anita O'Day, Mark Murphy, Richie Cole, Randy Brecker, Bob Mintzer, Houston Person, John Swana, Buddy DeFranco, Clark Terry, Slide Hampton, Cecil Bridgewater, Reggie Workman, Ted Rosenthal, Dave Stryker, James Moody, Steve Marcus, Eddie Gomez, Dave Liebman and many others at countless schools, clubs, concerts and festivals. Miller founded Dreambox Media, resulting in Philadelphia Magazine's choice award for Best Jazz Record Label, 1999; in 1998 he became Adjunct Professor for Advanced Drumset Study on the Jazz Faculty at Rowan University, Glassboro, New Jersey and continues in that position. During 1997-1998 he participated in 20-week Children's Music Workshop series for (Cousin Mary's) John Coltrane Cultural Society, sponsored by the Philadelphia Housing Authority. He produced Evelyn Simms' recording "On My Own," which was awarded Best Jazz Recording of 1989 by the Philadelphia Music Foundation; he has held an exclusive Artist Endorsement agreement with Meinl cymbals since 1987. In addition, Jim is a contributing writer for JazzTimes magazine, reviewing drumsets as well as instructional drum books and videos. He has performed at the Cancun Jazz Festival (1992), taken two tours of Portugal with pianist Brian Trainor (1995 and 1996). He has completed 2 CDs of his own compositions.
His daughter is Annie (Elizabeth Anne, b. 1987).
Reverie: Tunnel Vision (1991); Gerald Veasley: Look Ahead (1992), Signs (1994); Suzanne Cloud: With a Little Help from My Friends (1995), Looking Back (2000); Denis DiBlasio: Catch Me (1993), Seven Giant Steps To Heaven (1994), Reflections of Childhood (1996), Rhino (1998), Perpetual Baggage Claim (1999); Kusangala w/ Tyrone Brown (1994), Tyrone Brown String Sextet: Between Midnight and Dawn (2005), Birdhouse Project: Free Bird (2006); Don Glanden w/ Larry McKenna: Sudden Life (1994); Bob Fanelli: Jazz Saxophone Classics (1994), Mood Swings (2001); Eddie Green: This One's For You (1996), Shades of Green (2004); George Rabbai & Co.: Lemon Drop (1997); Brian Trainor Trio & Friends: Monk & Me (1997), Brian Trainor/Steve Marcus Quartet: Tranquillo (2004); Teddy Pendergrass: This Christmas (I'd Rather Have Love) (1998); Jim Ridl Trio: Five Minutes To Madness and Joy (1999), Trio Live (2001), Your Cheatin' Heart (2005); Monkadelphia (2000); Brian Betz: Without a Doubt (2003), Dichotomy (2005); Tom Lawton: Retrospective/Debut (2004); Mark Knox: Places (2006); Miller Time: If It's Not One Thing... (2003), ...It's Another (2007)
Unreleased studio recordings and videotapes:
Mark Kramer & Charles Fambrough: Jazz Greetings (1997); Mike Pedicin, Jr.: Sestetto Pedicino (2002); Richie Cole Quartet (2002); unissued videos of the Eddie Green Trio/Quartet in concert at the East Coast Jazz Festival (Maryland, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002). Live video performances broadcast on USA Hot Spots (1983); Prism (now Comcast) Cable (ca. 1985); NJN/PBS State of the Arts (Trenton, NJ, 2000); live performance on the American Jazz Radio Festival, WBGO- FM/NPR Network (Newark, NJ, 1987).
Numerous radio interviews and live broadcasts on WRTI-FM, Philadelphia (including Jazz Jaunts), also WDCU-FM, Washington DC and WBZC-FM, Burlington Cnty., New Jersey.
A Brief History of Timekeeping! From Baby Dodds to Jack DeJohnette (unpublished, 1997); numerous instructional book/video/CD/drum equipment reviews in JazzTimes; as-yet-unposted interview for Willard Jenkins' Open-Sky Jazz / The Independent Ear.
Works About Miller or Citing/Referencing Him Extensively (omitting numerous CD and performance reviews):"Birthday for Dreambox Media," All About Jazz.com, March 19, 2007
"Inside the Dreambox...Philly's own jazz record label," Philadelphia Inquirer, Feb. 28, 2007
"Dreambox Media Celebrates 20th Anniversary with 100th Release," JazzTimes.com, Dec. 22, 2006
"PH-1: Behind the Music - Dreambox Media," Philadelphia Weekly, Feb. 18, 2004
"If It's Not One Thing...," AllAboutJazz.com, Feb. 13, 2004
"Featured Artist: Jim Miller," jazzreview.com, Nov. 2003
"Miller Celebrates Release of 'One Thing,'" The Whit, Oct. 30, 2003
"Rowan U. Jazz Pioneer Makes Recording Debut," Gloucester County Times, Oct. 21, 2003
"A CD and All That Jazz," Camden Courier-Post, Oct. 21, 2003
"Dreambox Media: Jim Miller's Label Puts the Word Out on Philly Musicians," All About Jazz, Nov.-Dec. 2002
"Miller's Crossing: from Jazz Drummer to Producer/Entrepreneur," Philadelphia City Paper, Oct. 4-11, 2001
Humorous anecdote in Bill Crow's "The Band Room," Allegro (Local 802 AFM), October 2001
"Phila. Jazz Musicians Pay Homage to Monk's Music," Press of Atlantic City, July 21, 2000
"Philadelphia Flyers: Dreambox Media," JazzTimes, September 1999
"The Scene Is Alive, If Not Always Kicking," New York Times, June 20, 1999
"MP3 vs. Mr. Suit: A New Kind of Sound File Is a Shot for the Little Guys," Philadelphia Weekly, June 16-23, 1999
"Two Questions with Dreambox Media Moguls Suzanne Cloud and Jim Miller," Philadelphia Weekly, June 9, 1999
"A Big Celebration for a Small Label," Trenton Times, March 12, 1999
"Label Preserves City's Jazz Traditions," Philadelphia Daily News, March 12, 1999
"Musician Speaks with Drums," News of Delaware County, February 26,1997
"Black History Live: America's Music at Sabold," Delaware County Daily Times, March 1, 1995
"Beyond the Beat: Drummer Recording, Promoting Local Jazz," News of Delaware County, November 16, 1994
"Just Don't Call Them Fusion," Trenton Times, September 4, 1992
"Jazz Group Prepares to Release Its Fourth LP," News of Delaware County, February 13, 1991
"Bio: Jim Miller," Jazziz, Feb./Mar. 1986
"On the Move: James D. Miller," Modern Drummer, August 1984