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2010 Adjudicator

Joel Miller

Joel started playing saxophone at the age of 10 and at 18 he left his hometown of Sackville, New Brunswick to move to Montreal to pursue his dream to be a jazz musician. Since completing his degree at McGill University, he has achieved this goal and built a solid
reputation, recording his original compositions featuring deceptively simple melodies combined with complex harmonic structures. His recording career spans 12 years, starting with his debut album, Find a Way (1996), Playgrounds (1998), Sky Beneath My Feet (1999), …and everything started to look different… (2001), Mandala (2004) and Tantramar (2008).

Miller has established a steady following among music listeners who yearn for melodic yet challenging compositions. His latest release, Tantramar, is indicative of his range and competence as he deftly navigates the listener into his melodic world of engaging hooks and rhythms with mesmerizing sonic loops, subtle textures, as well as challenging harmonies and meter. He draws us into this exquisite sonic ambiance introducing a vast range of musical influences from folk, rock and blues to world music and direct references from nature —including birdsong from the inimitable Chickadee. Mark Miller, renowned jazz critic, has compared his tone to the smoky soulfulness of Stan Getz, but it’s the lyrical, almost spiritual quality of his music that draws people in. The wistful, yearning notes are achingly authentic yet the overall spirit of his music is optimistic and affirmative.

Joel has been the recipient of an array of accolades over the years including the Grand Jazz Award at the Montreal International Jazz Fest and an Opus Award for the concert of the year from le Conseil québécois de la musique. He has toured, recorded and collaborated with such jazz luminaries as Kurt Rosenwinkel, Ben Monder, Ingrid Jensen, Steve Amirault and Gary Versace as well as Denzal Sinclaire and Brad Turner.

Recent highlights include performing and recording with Canadian artists Mike Rud, André White, Kevin Dean, Jan Jarczyk, Vanessa Rodrigues, the Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra and Carlos Jímenez. Miller is currently composing a new choral work and collaborating with Henry Hey on a concert for the upcoming edition of the Montreal International Jazz Festival. In addition, he is developing an exciting new project with virtuoso guitarist, Eric St-Laurent. Upcoming projects include a tour of Canada in summer 2009 to promote his recent release, Tantramar.

“What is doubtless one of the most creative jazz productions to come out of Canada”
- Juan Rodriguez, Montreal Gazette

“A very happening tenor player who has an able ear for composition”
- Katie Malloch

“Miller is not only a thoughtful and melodic player, but also a creative composer who manages the rare feat of progressive and accessible at the same time”
- Alex Hutchinson, The Ottawa Citizen

“Some of the best original contemporary jazz I’ve heard recently”
- Michael G. Nastos, All Music Guide






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