Thursday, 19 April 2012

Joel Miller: "Swim"

For today's review, we're going to be discussing a prodigy. However, what does it even mean to be a prodigy? Surely there a many talented youths out there who excel in all areas of life. Especially in the jazz world, it seems like most musicians show exceptional talent during their childhood. So lets re-frase the question...What separates a prodigy from the abundance of extremely talented young people. Well, we're going to have to answer this by way of an example: Born into a musical family, Joel Miller first picked up the saxophone when he was ten. By the time he was thirteen, he was performing at the St. Francis Xavier University summer jazz workshop, where his dexterity was recognized by the likes of Kevin Dean, who would later go on to teach Miller at McGill University. Since then, he has released six records as leader, and has won numerous awards including the prestigious Grand Prix Jazz award at the 1997 Montreal International Jazz festival. As well, his recent compositions on Christine Jensen's "Treelines" helped to lead the album towards a Juno award and an Opus Prize award, both in the category of contemporary jazz. All of this has culminated in "Swim", Miller's latest release. The album also includes Geoffrey Keezer on the piano, Fraser Hollins on the bass, and Greg Ritchie on the drums. The first song we're going to discuss is "Teeter Totter". As the opening song on the album, "Teeter Totter" is characterized by a melody line that literally takes you up and down on the musical seesaw. Both Miller and Keezer pull out virtuosic improvisations that will have you begging for more by the end of the piece (thank God there's still ten songs left!). The next song that we're going to note is "Nos étoiles (Intro)". This piece highlights Miller's compositional proficiency, as he has truly written a masterpiece. Furthermore, we didn't quite provide a clear cut answer to what a prodigy is. Nevertheless, you're going to have to find out by listening to "Swim", because only a former prodigy like Joel Miller can truly shed light on what a prodigy actually is.

Purchase: "Swim"

Joel Miller

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