Big Miller (vcl), Pat Brooks (tp), Jimmy Cleveland (tb), Phil Woods (as), Zoot Sims, Plas Johnson, Ben Webster (ts), Al Cohn (bs), Jimmy Jones, Gildo Mahones (p), Kenny Burrell, Billy Bauer, Jim Hall (g), Red Mitchell (b), Elvin Jones, Jo Jones (d)
Reference: FSRCD 622
Bar code: 8427328606226
Clarence H. Miller, known to his friends as Big, was one of the most impressive new blues singers on the late Fifties scene. With a childhood background of church singing and piano and trombone studies, he became a professional musician in 1946 after Army service, when he led a band touring with a repertoire largely based on Louis Jordan jump numbers, before switching to bass and joining Jay McShanns earthy, Kansas City based outfit. Influenced by Walter Brown and Joe Turner, he started singing blues with the band and moved to Chicago and Cincinatti, forming a group with trombonist Al Grey which went to Texas. A year touring the small Texas towns honed his gift for blues singing and a move to New York led to his big breakthrough.
He made a debut LP, Did you ever hear the blues?, for United Artists, went with Nat Pierces band into Birdland and then, through singer Jon Hendricks, was invited to the 1960 Monterey Jazz Festival. That led to Hollywood. Stints at Shelly Mannes celebrated club and an album, Revelation and the Blues, with Ben Webster confirmed his status as a front-rank blues singer with a unique style which was influenced by bop.
"Big Miller was a superior blues and swing singer in the tradition of Big Joe Turner, Jimmy Rushing and Joe Williams but with his own sound and openness to folk music. He spent much of his later years living in Canada.
'Did You Ever Heart The Blues + Revelations And The Blues' from 1959-60 bring back two of his finest albums. The first record has blues written by Langston Hughes while most of the second set consists of Miller's own bluish originals. With accompaniment by such giants as altoist Phil Woods, trombonist Jimmy Cleveland and tenor-saxophonist Zoot Sims on the Hughes project and either Ben Webster or Plas Johnson on tenor for the second, this is Big Miller's definitive release."
Scott Yanow -Los Angeles Jazz Scene
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