Dan Miller was born in Waukegan, Illinois on May 31st,1969 to John and Virginia Miller. He began playing the trumpet in grade school with the encouragement of his father (his brother David plays the trombone). Growing up, he would listen to records with his father (including Miles, Dizzy, Chet, Maynard, Basie and Sinatra) which helped him form the idea of what jazz trumpet should sound like.
Dan relates, "Chicago in the 1970's and 1980's had an incredibly vibrant jazz scene. There was Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase that had Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Max Roach, Horace Silver, Woody Shaw, Joe Henderson, Phil Woods with Tom Harrell, The Jazztet, The Timeless All Stars with Bobby Hutcheson, Curtis Fuller and Harold Land, Ira Sullivan and Red Rodney, Dexter and Johnny Griffin, etc. When a artist was working as a single they would often be backed by the classic Delmark rhythm section of Jodie Christian, Donald Garrett and Wilbur Campbell. There was Rick's Cafe American that had all of the Norman Granz acts like Dizzy, Oscar Peterson, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Roy Eldridge, Zoot Sims, etc. Mr.Ricky's had all of the organ greats like Jimmy Smith and Jack McDuff. Von Freeman ran the Tuesday night session at the New Apartment Lounge down on 77th Street. Brad Goode started playing with Lin Halliday everywhere, then Eric Alexander moved to town. Bob Koester owned the Jazz Record Mart (the best jazz record store in the world) and used LP's were cheap. Count Basie, Buddy Rich, Woody Herman or Maynard's Band was always coming to town. There was always something swinging happening and fortunately for my brother and I, my dad took us to hear music all the time."
He studied with Nick Drozdoff and Gary Slavo while growing up in Chicago, but points to two specific events which helped him to pursue jazz trumpet. First, he met Bobby Shew in Chicago in 1984, who would become a life long teacher, mentor and friend. "Hearing Bobby was a revelation to me. He blew sensational bebop and such swinging lead trumpet, that I felt that here was a musician that can do it all. Bobby is also one the finest teachers in the world. His down to earth approach puts the student at ease, and allows them to quickly grasp his innovative ideas." Second, was a meeting the same year with Tom Harrell at a Jamey Aeborsold jazz clinic. Harrell was just there for one day, but "he came into the trumpet master class with Hal Galper and proceeded to tear through Cherokee, rhythm changes and the blues in all 12 keys. I sat five feet away from the front of his bell, enamored by that big, burnished sound and thought that this is what I wanted to do."
He went to North Texas State University in 1987, where he began studies with teacher Don Jacoby. Jacoby, acknowledged as one of America's finest brass instructors, was able to convey his complex concepts to anyone at any level, and Miller spent many days studying with and just being around the legendary teacher. "Jake" treated his students like family, and his love of music and teaching made his students work with abandon. Miller was also fortunate to have studied with John J. Haynie at North Texas. Haynie was another tremendous teacher and and an amazing soloist. "JJH" was the legendary father of the North Texas State Trumpet Department who helped Dan refine his playing musically and technically and exposed him to 20th Century trumpet literature.
Dan left North Texas in 1989 to join the Woody Herman Orchestra which featured Frank Tiberi and a trumpet section with Ron Stout, Greg Gisbert and Paul Mazzio. Sitting right behind the snare drum and hi-hat of the great former Count Basie drummer Dennis Mackrel every night, Dan learned what swing and pocket were all about, "Dennis' time and feel were a revelation to me."
In January 1990 he met Harry Connick Jr. in Dallas, and Harry told him of his plans for a new big band. By June of that year the band was on the road, and it would take him all over the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan and Australia. Harry had assembled a wonderful blend of musicians from New Orleans (Leroy Jones, Lucien Barbarin, Shannon Powell), New York City (Jerry Weldon, Ned Goold, Ben Wolfe) and elsewhere (Russell Malone, Roger Ingram, Brad Leali) that gave the band a unique sound. The combination of Harry's incredible voice and piano virtuosity, coupled with his exciting arrangements and an entire band of soloists led to an explosion of popularity for Harry and the band.
He also began working with Maynard Ferguson in 1991 (for three months during a break with Connick). Becoming a member Maynard's group was the dream of any trumpet player and it lived up to every expectation. Joining a brass section that included old friends Craig Johnson, Walter White and Joe Jackson was a great pleasure. "Maynard tore down the house every night and he loved to tell stories on the bus about Dizzy, Bird, Miles, Kenton and all the nights at Birdland", Miller relates. "Maynard was also fascinated that I wanted to play my solos in the cup mute. I told him I dug Dizzy and Fats' cup mute work and he just loved the sound. He began playing solos in harmon and bucket mute. He got a fat sound on the harmon, but it was the power and core to his incredible open sound that really defied description. It just made the hair on the back of your neck stand up...pure electricity!"
Dan moved to New York City in November 1991 with his brother, trombonist David Miller, settling in Greenwich Village across the street from the Village Gate. Once in NYC, Dan began attending the Barry Harris Jazz Workshop whenever he was off of the road. He also submersed himself in the NYC jazz scene making jam sessions, hanging out and playing with fellow trumpeters Kenny Rampton, Jim Rotondi, James Zollar, Jim Seeley, Steve Bernstein, Russell Gunn and listening to the great masters of this music in person including Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Clark Terry, James Moody, Doc Cheatham, Elvin Jones, J.J. Johnson, McCoy Tyner, Johnny Griffin, Art Farmer, Benny Golson, Curtis Fuller, Hank Jones, Barry Harris, Junior Cook, Clifford Jordan, Lou Donaldson, George Coleman, Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff and Jackie McLean.
The original tour with Harry Connick Jr lasted almost two and one half years (June 1990-September 1992) traveling to the U.S., Europe, Japan and Australia many times and recording the multi-platinum album Blue Light, Red Light. Dan returned to Maynard's band in September 1992 for a tour of the U.S., Europe, Japan and India, where the band performed for Sai Baba's 50th Birthday Celebration. It was the first time Ferguson had taken his band to India after he had been traveling there every year since the mid-1960's. Connick re-organized the big band for a world tour from April 1993-January 1994.
Miller spent August 1994 with Wynton Marsalis's Big Band at Tanglewood, MA recording and filming the Marsalis on Music project with a band that included Eric Reed, Ben Wolfe, Herlin Riley, Wess Anderson, Victor Goines, Rob Stewart, Andy Farber, Kenny Rampton, Wycliffe Gordon and the Tanglewood Orchestra conducted by Seiji Ozawa. This project yielded four television specials for PBS, a companion CD, book and 4-DVD set. He continued free-lancing in NYC with various artists including Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Frank Foster and Jon Hendricks.
In December of 1995 he rejoined Harry Connick Jr. and his new funk band, which toured until May 1997. This group recorded the album Star Turtle and featured a five man horn section with Dan, Ned Goold, Mark Mullins, Dave Schumacher, Lucien Barbarin and a tremendous rhythm section with Jonathan Dubose, Tony Hall, Raymond Webber and Harry Connick Jr playing piano, Hammond B-3, Fender Rhodes and Clavinet.
In June 1997, Miller began a fourteen month stint with the great R & B vocalist Tom Jones, criss-crossing the United States and returning to Europe and Australia. The MGM Grand in Las Vegas was home for Tom Jones 12 weeks a year and they also appeared on NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and NBC's Today Show to promote Tom's recording of You Can Leave Your Hat On for the soundtrack for the film The Full Monty.
Harry Connick Jr. returned to the big band format in 1998 and Miller rejoined the band to record a new album, Come By Me and tour the U.S., Europe, Japan and Australia until 2000.
During his time with Harry Connick Jr., Dan Miller appeared on four of his albums: Blue Light Red Light, When My Heart Finds Christmas, Star Turtle and Come By Me. Miller also appeared on three of Harry Connick's television specials that are available on DVD: Swingin' Out Live, The New York Big Band Concert and When My Heart Finds Christmas. His television appearances with Harry Connick included NBC Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, NBC Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NBC Late Night with Conan O'Brien Show, NBC Christmas in Rockefeller Center, NBC Today Show, 33rd Annual Grammy Awards, CBS Late Show with David Letterman, CBS Harry Connick Jr. Christmas Special, CBS Elizabeth Taylor's 65th Birthday Celebration, ABC Good Morning America, FOX Mad TV, PBS Great Performances, The Arsenio Hall Show, Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon and Super Bowl XXVI.
Dan has spent 2000 thru today free-lancing in New York City and throughout Florida. In 2004, Dan began to split his time between NYC and Florida. He started performing at Ellington's Jazz Bar and Restaurant on Sanibel Island, FL where he led his own groups as well as worked with Jimmy McGriff, David "Fathead" Newman, Jimmy Norman, Lew Del Gatto, Jon Weber, Davell Crawford and Danny Sinoff. From 2005-2009, Dan was a member of the Danny Sinoff Quartet, recording three CDs for E.S.P. (the third featured the late, great tenor saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman). This band worked exclusively at Ellington's for five years straight and also performed at the Syracuse Jazz Festival (2006 & 2007) and made numerous appearances in NYC for the Jazz Foundation of America.
Dan has had the pleasure of being a Yamaha Performing Artist and Clinician since 1991 and has done clinics, concerts and adjudications for the Yamaha Music Corporation at universities, colleges and high schools nationwide. He also teaches privately and his students have gone on to win music scholarships at Indiana University, Berklee School of Music, University of Miami, University of Louisville, Florida State University, University of North Florida, University of South Florida, University of Central Florida, Florida International University and S.U.N.Y Purchase.
Since 2010, Dan has been a member of the Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra which features tenor saxophonist Lew Del Gatto (Saturday Night Live Band 1975-2005) and violinist Glenn Basham (Concertmaster of the Naples Philharmonic). This sextet has played a series of sold out concerts at the famed Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts, now known as ARTIS-Naples, featuring international jazz stars like Randy Brecker, Charles McPherson, Ira Sullivan, Bobby Shew, Russell Malone, Steve Turre, Dennis Rowland, Mike Maineri and Dick Hyman. The Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra looks forward to beginning its fourth season in November 2013.
Dan continues to perform regularly in NYC, appearing frequently at Smalls and Fat Cat as a leader or as a member of Ned Goold or Tim McCall's groups. He often finds himself playing in NYC with musicians like his brother David Miller, Ben Wolfe, Neal Caine, Anthony Pinciotti, Spike Wilner, Ned Goold, Stephen Riley, Tim McCall and Carlos DeRosa.
Dan Miller's musical influences include Fats Navarro, Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard, Kenny Dorham, Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk and Curtis Fuller.
Studied with the Following
Selected Performances with:
Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra
Wynton Marsalis Big Band
Harry Connick Jr.
Danny Sinoff Quartet
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