East-West Rec./private Lloyd Miller & Press Keys Quartet :
Oriental Jazz (US,1969??)****
I found out that some of Lloyd Miller’s releases were available (from what was not sold out) from at least two online shops, so I tried the title which assumed inherited most “fusions”. A real fusion in the new sense it still isn’t. All early attempts to fuse and blend were built from mutual understanding and respect and knowledge from the genres playing them very strictly and stylish. In this case, it means that Lloyd Miller learned several world music genres, like santur with Iranian master Daryush Safvat in Paris, while his core thinking remains jazz. Rhythm and melody always swing in cool jazz and swing while the improvised instrument or melody is the ethnic origin. On “Gol-E Gandom” he plays the santur. The band drops such a respectful jazz background for it. On “Yona” Sudanese style is played by piano and clarinet. This breaks into a bar jazz improvisation on drums, bass and piano, but also returns just slightly melodically to the theme. “Tanya” is pattern based old jazz on piano and trombone. “Güzel Gözler”(Amber Eyes) then is called Arabo-Turkish jazz. For Lloyd Miller this must have been a new experiment. And it sounds much more old time (cool) jazz (swing) compared to what came to existence most spontanuously as Turkish jazz a few years later. Here the swing is very fast, almost nervous. “Nathanie” is a “light waltz with a classical prelude”, somewhat improvised. “Hue Wail” is jazz mixed with Vietnamese solo in folk tradition. Here the jazz dominates the background swing (bass, drum, piano), not renewing, but finding a meeting point. Another meeting point is found for another Indonesian theme/tune later on. The last track makes a true starting point of a more typical Persian typed improvisation with a jazz background. It takes off well, but does not try to go to much elsewhere either. A very enjoyable release mixing old time jazz with ethnic elements. Unfortunately this isonly a replica picture cdr.
World Arts Lloyd Miller : Oriental Jazz -cdr- (US/IR/F,1961-70s,1987)**°°
One of the pioneering jazzmen seriously interested in blending with the east was Californian Lloyd Miller. He was already part of the jazz scene in the 50’s when he left to live in Tehran for a while before moving on to Europe, to play with Don Ellis in Germany whilst introducing his Oriental Jazz ideas. Other jazzmen like Tony Scott, Paul Horn, Bud Shan, Dave Brubeck, came to share similar interests. In France he continued his study withDaryush Safvat & Tran Van Khe in the centre of oriental music study in Paris. In the 70s Miller went back to Tehran for a 7 years scholarship with a doctoral dissertation on Persian music, which was published as “Music and Song in Persia”.
This compilation CD represent works starting from Paris in 1961, until the 70's recordings done in Tehran. We hear the Oriental Jazz Quartet, The Mike Johnson Quartet the U Jazz Ensemble, and some combos from his prime-time main network TV show in Tehran, and a few multitrack performances.
Santur is one of these instruments known best as a sound typical in Persian styled music. This instrument is of course used various times (like on "Perso Jazz Blend" or “Gol-E-Gandom”, 1967). Sometimes jazz & Persian music are in the mix of communication, but a bit more often the styles are deeper into the blend. Not only santur, but oud as well adds the Persian flavour. There’s also jazz played on them as well. We can even here the double bass, cello or piano playing in Persian mode. But Dr.Lloyd doesn’t stop at Persia & jazz. There’s one track with a Turkish theme called “Cello a la Turque”, an Indian theme : “Bhairavi” (bass, piano with additional tabla), an Indonesian theme (“Njonja Mirah”, bass, piano with additional xylophone), Japanese themes (“Kyoto Gardens", "Sakura"), a Vietnam theme (“Vietnam medley”), a Chinese ? theme (“Chun Chiang Hua Yueh Yeh”) sometimes brilliantly transformed or brought in to a jazz territory. Other tracks are just played in their traditional style or slightly re-entering a new invented world which has a life on its own, like the few minimal pieces (“Yang Chin solo” and like the first parts of the pianopiece of “Eastern tour”). A very nice document, and a very good example of the search for the Oriental Jazz blend.
More info : http://www.jazzscope.com/OJ.html
World Arts Dr. Lloyd Miller : DVD compilation -DVDR- (US/IR,1960s-1970s)****°
I watched also the DVD which was compiled from various TV broadcasts where Lloyd Miller showed his ideas and skills, which first of all received broadcasts on the local University television stations of Brigham Young and Utah in the ‘60s, with his local jazz group. After receiving his doctorate in musicology in Iran, he got his own televisionshow on National Iranian television in the ‘70s where he played with the best jazz musicians in Iran. The show had a huge popularity. I was amazed when I actually SAW Lloyd Miller playing so many music instruments and world music based styles. He studied with various masters, teaching him to play Persian instruments like the santur (Daryush Safzat), zarb (Shimirani), Vietnamees music (Tran Van Khé). Besides he seems to be a master of the ud which he plays in the old tradition, with a feather. On the last track he gives an incredible blues performance on the ud for the Iranian Television. Besides he masters jazzpiano (I was amazed how he managed to play exactly like the santur on piano), clarinet, double bass and cello (I was overwhelmed when I saw him play the bass and cello exactly like an ud and dutar), and play Persian percussion (he has his own mixture of technique on the zarb combining Indian and Afghan methods). It is incredible to see how Lloyd Miller plays a certain instrument while he thinks of another one. The oriental jazz he performed is no fusion but a mixture of both styles standing next to eachother, sometimes slightly adapted and interwoven (like the Persian performance of feminine santur master Azar Hashemi who performed on one piece some jazz rhythm froman old Persian melody), always with both styles recognisable next to each other. It is a shame also that this period of world interaction with respect for tradition is no longer P.C. Also women now suddenly are dressed in mummification clothes and I don’t see them freely expose their music skills like in those days. This surely is a great document to watch.
Jazzman Lloyd Miller : A Lifetime in Oriental Jazz (US/IR/F,1961-2005,re.2009)****'
I didn’t understand why it took so long before an official release of Lloyd Miller saw the light of day, but finally here is the first official CD, bringing an overview of some important compositions in the repertoire of Lloyd Miller’s career, in cooperation with Dr.Lloyd Miller himself.
The introductory “Gol-E Gandom” works therefore like a statement referring to Lloyd’s Miller Persian days and television broadcasts in Iran of crossover jazz with Persian themes. For the jazzman label, this track had been already the introduction of the man to their public (on their “spiritual jazz” LP). Large extensive liner notes reveal how Lloyd Miller learned many languages together with the musical languages which he learned over the years, while staying in countries like Germany (where he joined a group with Turkish jazz pioneer Maffay Falay), Sweden, Iran and finally the US where he also learned Vietnamese and Indian music with some classic masters. He learned instruments like piano, oud, Middle Eastern and Indian percussion and several ethnical string instruments. Often he returned to classic jazz and swing, of an almost predictable nature making it possible for him to switch fluently from very diverse and different ethnical genres and modes. The 78 minutes of recordings of recording sessions contain more surprises. Also his late recordings, mixing Indian, Afghan, or Persian music with jazz work remarkably well, giving a convincing impression of a career with serious interest of deeply rooted ideas.
Strut Rec. Lloyd Miller and The Heliocentrics : (OST) (US,2010)****
It's about time Dr.Lloyd Miller gets full professional chances with a full band. Supported by a jazz period in the 50s Lloyd Miller built up some pathways to bridge jazz and diverse ethnic styles, having studied and got his degree and also performed in Iran, with a jazz music prime time TV show where he was known as Kurosh Ali Khan, after other studies (like with some ethnic instruments masters of diverse origin, like with Daryush Safvat from Iran),) and with performances and another part of his history in the US, Switzerland, Sweden, Belgium and France, he became to be able to perform diverse middle eastern, Persian and far-eastern instrument. Lloyd used this knowledge of skills to switch instruments while using the same modes and techniques, showing new possibilities of crossovers and certain musical essences in this way. His recordings were assembled to just a handful of LP's, later CDRs and DVDR's on the net, before he was finally was given notice once more.
Also The band Heliocentrics proved their importance in sharing their musical ideas with another, jazz fusion pioneer of Ethiopian origin, Mulatu Astatke, who once stimulated the most creative and jazz inspired period in his country in the seventies.
The previous Strut compilation of Lloyd Miller had shown already how the newest recordings of Lloyd Miller expanded something of the earlier older school crossover fusions with a new dynamism, some free swing based upon some improvisational flavour. It is the same renewed enthusiasm that is noticeable with this release which brings Lloyd Miller in cooperation with The Heliocentrics. It is as if it is the improvisational skill mixed with a broader musical knowledge (from World Music knowledge which can be useful in a jazz context) that is able to recreate and set free all that has been carefully prepared before. “Nava” for instance in the Persian minor modal system on a 5/4 rhythm sounds just like another jazz-based band idea. “Mandala” is an idea of Indo-jazz with use of Indian instruments like the violin-like sarangi. There are compositions used by both The Heliocentrics members or band or by Lloyd Miller reinterpreting and fusing their common ideas. Two tracks used Balinese/Indonesian modes and themes with new improvisations, and a few older compositions by Lloyd Miller were also reconsidered with a portion of improvisation. “Lloyd's Diatribe” is Lloyd's own hiphop beat-spoken-word while the band improvises with a groove This is like an angry complaint put into words like an improvisation, a feeling with frustration against the musical ignorance and the musical dirt that is common no(n)-sense for him too often. Welcome back, man !