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Music in the Air release date: May 23, 2022

"Miller's tone s clear, clean and accurate as he glides over the changes of Jamieson Trotter's arrangements.  This album moves like a sweet, summer breeze...."

Dee Dee McNeil

Dee Dee's Jazz Diary, LA Jazz Scene

 

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"Miller's tone is clear, clean and accurate as he glides over the cool changes of Jamieson Trotter's arrangements.  This album moves like a sweet, summer breeze..."

Dee Dee McNeil

Dee Dee's Jazz Diary, LA Jazz Scene

“…never perfunctory, however he interprets the lyrics of a song, he never loses the ability to create vivid portraits for the listener."  Steven Cerra, Jazz Profiles

"It all seems to move and breathe and swing so naturally...Close your eyes and let it wrap itself around you and carry you away to a better place."  Michael Doherty’s Music Log

“…makes one feel bouncy and buoyant, floating on a dream.  He is masterful at dream weaving.”  Cabaret Scenes Magazine, Mary Bogue

When Mark Christian Miller sings he’s talking to you, with the warmth, clarity, and intimacy of a fine conversationalist. Underneath it all is a gentle jazz pulse that makes his singing float on air. He has an effortless rapport with musicians, for he knows how to listen. 

Born in Storm Lake, Iowa but a longtime resident of Los Angeles, Mark is a familiar and admired voice on the West Coast jazz circuit. Back in the ‘90s, when he was learning his craft, two of the city’s veteran pianists, Page Cavanaugh and Joyce Collins, embraced him. Years later he’s still surrounded by some of L.A.’s most gifted players. On this album, Mark’s third, pianist and arranger Jamieson Trotter brings every song a fresh point of view; his charts are full of rhythmic and melodic surprise, but like Mark he knows the impact that space can have. 

In his hands, the rangy “Lullaby of the Leaves” sounds easy; he nails its wide intervals and makes them swing. Mark and Jamieson created the “vocalese” passage. They crank up the playful menace of “Too Darn Hot,” from Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate; Kevin Winard’s airy, graceful drumming has power in reserve. The mysteriousness of “I Wished on the Moon” is propelled by Mike Gurolla’s tiptoeing bass; Mark enhances it with a recitation drawn from the 1956 poem by Pablo Neruda, “Ode to a Beautiful Nude.” 

The jazz standards on this album show Mark’s ability to glide over hip changes and shifts in time. “If You Never Fall in Love with Me” is based on “Del Sasser,” an instrumental by Cannonball Adderley’s bassist, Sam Jones. Alto saxophonist Danny Janklow contributes a breezy solo; on Duke Ellington’s “Prelude to a Kiss” he changes the mood to midnight-blue. “If You Could See Me Now,” the Tadd Dameron torch song, spotlights guitarist Larry Koonse with a silky, elegant solo. Mark discovered “Music in the Air” on Jon Hendricks’s 1959 album A Good Git-Together; Hendricks wrote the words, set to “Wildwood,” a composition by the bebop saxophonist and composer Gigi Gryce. Mark saunters through it with the happy-go-lucky grace that the lyric demands. 

He turns to introspective ‘90s pop with Warren Zevon’s “Mutineer,” in which a rough voyage at sea becomes a metaphor for a man’s troubled foray into love. Jamieson Trotter’s piano chords suggest a storm brewing, while Mark, with his trademark understatement and believability, takes us inside that ship as it navigates the dark.

 

—James Gavin, New York, 2022

 

[James Gavin’s books include biographies of Peggy Lee, Lena Horne, and Chet Baker.] 

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If You Never Fall In Love With Me Mark Christian Miller
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Lullaby of the Leaves Mark Christian Miller
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Music In The AirMark Christian Miller
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I Wished On The Moon Mark Christian Miller
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Mutineer Mark Christian Miller
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If You Could See Me Now Mark Christian Miller
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Too Darn Hot Mark Chrisitan Miller
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Prelude To A Kiss Mark Christian Miller
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