Harry Miller | Umbrella

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Jazz: Piano Jazz Jazz: Contemporary Jazz Moods: Type: Instrumental
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by Harry Miller

Lyrical, nimble fingered jazz pianist leads program of original melodic compositions and two covers, with French harmonica wiz kid Yvonnick Prene, virtuoso bassist Tom Kennedy, and rhythm master Nate Smith on drums. Features the hit song "Umbrella."
Genre: Jazz: Piano Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Sleepin' at Night
4:59 $0.99
2. Barataria
5:21 $0.99
3. All Things Being Equal
1:55 $0.99
4. The Sands Are Shifting
6:10 $0.99
5. Umbrella
5:00 $0.99
6. Remembering the Good
3:17 $0.99
7. Try, Try, Tritone Again
5:44 $0.99
8. Quilombo
4:39 $0.99
9. IOU, Lovey
4:37 $0.99
10. Dial G for Garry
4:10 $0.99
11. Anyway
7:58 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
"Umbrella" is an exciting, epic new release of monumental proportions from the accomplished NYC based pianist and composer Harry Miller. The release includes nine new original compositions, as well as imaginative arrangements of two cover songs--one of which is a compelling instrumental version of Rihanna's smash hit "Umbrella" reconfigured in a way that will arouse your ears with subtle new harmonies and textures--as well as make you want to dance to a majorly grooving backbeat.

The level of musicianship on "Umbrella" is worth the price of admission alone. Mr. Miller has performed all over the globe on keyboards in the road bands of everyone from Maynard Ferguson to Little Anthony & The Imperials, and "Umbrella" marks his 5th official album release as a bandleader, and the first since 2003's "Jazz Beauty Supply." Umbrella is most definitely worth the wait.

French harmonica whiz Yvonnick Prene came to the US not too long ago on a music scholarship as a college student, and has promptly blown away everyone who has heard his awesome command of this unconventional and difficult-to-master instrument. While no one who plays the harmonica can escape the towering shadow of the great Toots Thielemans, Yvonnick manages to forge his own sound by taking the instrument to new sonic plateaus that are steeped in the jazz vocabulary.

Tom Kennedy is one of the most celebrated and facile bassists in this or any era. His mastery of both the acoustic and electric basses, honed on recordings and constant touring with jazz superstars like Mike Stern, is simply unrivaled. Says Miller: "Tom's solos on this recording, particularly on the songs 'Try, Try, Tritone Again' and 'IOU, Lovey' will certainly go down in music history as some of the most astounding improvised solos by not only a bassist, but by anyone--on any instrument--ever. He's that good. Every time I listen to him play I go into shock at what he does on the instrument. It's almost not human."

Harry first heard Nate Smith while checking out the Dave Holland Big Band at the NYC club Birdland, and he was immediately enthralled with Smith's playing. "What I heard that night was someone who was deeply connected with the music in a way that showed very clearly that he had done his homework. He knew the charts inside and out, and was not afraid to play quietly when the music called for it. When the music called for him to bring up the intensity--man, was he ever explosive on that drum kit. I knew I wanted to play some music together after that night if the possibility arose" says Miller.

"In our recording session, it was kind of uncanny how Nate came up with the perfect groove for each tune. He is so skilled that it was almost intimidating. On 'Barataria' for example, I knew I wanted to try something different. The unorthodox groove he played was perfect, and I felt like I was on an amusement park ride or something. I was hanging on for dear life, trying to make what I played fit with what he was doing, which was something completely new. At the same time, it was also liberating to hear a groove that was not only what I imagined it could be, but a whole new thing that was beyond what my own imagination was capable of producing. That's the beauty of collaborating with such high caliber musicians--they push you past what you think you are capable of doing. The risk of failure is worth the results."

As a composer, Miller has continued to mature and grow. He is most proud of the two ballads on the recording, "All Things Being Equal," which is a kind of homage to Americana, and "Remembering The Good," which in live performances has resonated with audiences very strongly. "In both cases, I wanted to create simple forms that held their own on the basis of melody and harmony, not necessarily as a springboard for improvisation. Luckily, in both songs, I think I may have succeeded--which is a lot harder to do than it seems. Creating sonic simplicity is not always such a simple task. I think it may take years of trial and error to get it just right" Miller says.

"Sleepin' At Night," "IOU, Lovey," and "Dial G For Garry" were all originally written as academic exercises--but Miller says that he ended up really liking all of them and decided to record them. "The first two were inspired by one of my teachers at CCNY when I went back to college, Mike Holober. The latter was written utilizing some of the devices I learned from the amazing piano teacher Garry Dial" Miller says.

"Quilombo" is a samba by Gilberto Gil that Miller has enjoyed listening to and performing since the 80's when he first heard it on a Brazilian compilation album. "Anyway" is an appropriately reflective way to end the entire album listening experience. Miller comments: "the tune was written in about 20 minutes, and the recording was done in one take, with no rehearsal or advance discussion. We just played it down, and fortunately for us, some magical interplay ensued." He continues: "to me, that is the essence of trusting the interplay capabilities of the musicians you are working with. We trust our ears and musical experience, we trust each other, and by doing so it opens up vistas of giving one another implicit permission and space to shine. When it works, there is no better feeling as an improviser."

The album was recorded in the studio by Gary Fogel, and the mixing was produced collaboratively by Avi Bortnick and Harry Miller, at Avi's studio. Avi's musical history working as a guitarist with John Scofield and others, coupled with this keen ears, attention to detail, and technical knowledge, gave the album a wonderful sonic quality and musical cohesiveness that serves to enhance the overall listening experience.



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