Guitarist Dave Miller leaves town for Brooklyn | Bleader

Guitarist Dave Miller leaves town for Brooklyn


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Dave Miller
  • Dave Miller
Since shortly after jazz was born in New Orleans, Chicago has been one of its greatest incubators, and back in the 20s the city attracted and sustained some of the music's greatest players. By mid-century, though, New York was the jazz capital of the world, and the majority of Chicago's best—with the exception of folks like Von Freeman and Fred Anderson—ended up heading east to chase their fortunes. This summer Chicago's jazz and improvised-music community will lose two more of its most talented figures, guitarist Dave Miller and flutist Nicole Mitchell. But if they follow the example of previous defectors like Aram Shelton, Greg Ward, and Matt Bauder—all of whom have maintained strong ties to, if not active membership in, Chicago-based bands—they won't ever go too long without coming back.

Mitchell is headed to Los Angeles (she grew up in southern California), and earlier this summer Miller split town for Brooklyn. His move notwithstanding, Miller has been around most of the month, playing gigs in a wide variety of mostly ad hoc settings, and tomorrow night he appears with one the more exciting groups he's part of: drummer Tim Daisy's New Fracture Trio. The trio, which also includes bassist Jake Vinsel, performs a free concert at the Whistler.

In an e-mail exchange earlier today, Miller told me, "I had been visiting NYC at least once a year since I was in college. It was always a good way to see some different, high-level music and get inspired. It also enabled me to take lessons with some of my favorite musicians, including Lee Konitz, Bill McHenry, Peter Bernstein, and Tony Malaby. I used to actually not really like it there—the fast pace, the people, the cutthroat mentality, etc. It was all pretty overwhelming. Through the years, though, the city grew on me and I realized that those rough stereotypes don't always hold true. I think the aspect that I like most about NYC is the drive that everyone has to succeed. In fact, it's necessary just to survive there. It's inspiring and motivating to be around people like that.

"I've also lived in the Chicago area my entire life. As much as it feels like home here, it's a good time for me to get out and find some new musical and personal experiences."

Miller says he hasn't grown tired of Chicago and plans to continue working with a dizzying number of groups he belongs to or leads here, including Blink, Algernon, Spilter, and his own trio. "I really just want to widen my base a little bit. There are a lot of great opportunities in NYC and I want to see how much I can achieve out there. I have already played many times with almost all of my favorite musicians in Chicago. Now I want to play with all of my favorite musicians in New York!"

Miller has only just started to play out in New York, but he has landed a gig of his own—in December. He's still putting a band together for the occasion, but he confirms that superb drummer Matt Wilson (who will play a solo set at the Umbrella Music Fest in November) will be part of it. In the meantime, Miller's upcoming concert calendar makes it look like he still lives in Chicago; don't wait until that changes to check one of his shows out.

Today's playlist:

Rango, Bride of the Zar (30 IPS)
Atomic, Theater Tilters Vol. 2 (Jazzland)
Supersilent, 10 (Rune Grammofon)
Mario Pavone Sextet, Deez to Blues (Playscape)
Inca Ore With Lemon Bear's Orchestra, The Birds in the Bushes (5RC)

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