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Jane Miller: Reviews

About "Three Sides To A Story"

Jane Miller

Three Sides To A Story

(Pink Bubble Records)

Jane Miller is a fine guitarist whose attractive chord voicings and ability to swing at all tempos makes her a very complete musician. A flawless player, her main fault seems to be that she has not recorded enough and, even when she does, it is primarily for her own small label. In addition to her playing, she is an important educator who teaches at Berklee and writes for several guitar magazines.

Three Sides To A Story features Jane Miller as an unaccompanied guitar soloist. She performs nine originals and six other songs, including an exquisite “The Summer Knows” and “Nardis.” The music sometimes straddles the boundaries between jazz and folk music. Most of the songs are taken at relaxed tempos although one suspects that Ms. Miller would have no difficulty at a faster pace. Her playing, which sometimes recalls Joe Pass, makes the absence of a bassist and drummer barely noticeable. She is quite melodic throughout this set which is filled with subtle creativity and top-notch musicianship.

Lovers of the lyrical side of the guitar will enjoy Three Side To A Story which is available from

Scott Yanow

Scott Yanow - Los Angeles Jazz Scene (Oct 1, 2013)
Jane Miller
Three Sides to a Story
Pink Bubble Records

Berklee Associate Professor and former PG columnist Jane Miller has gone solo for Three Sides to a Story. With a mix of originals, standards, and pop classics, it is, as Miller says, a snapshot of where she is with her guitars now, and it’s a flattering one.

Original tunes are the foundation of the 15 tracks, and Miller ably composes her way through a spectrum of styles, including traditional-sounding jazz, peaceful folk, and quirky blues. She also showcases her deep knowledge and experience as a jazz musician by tackling George Gershwin’s “Our Love is Here to Stay,” Miles Davis’ “Nardis,” and Jimmy Van Heusen’s “Here’s That Rainy Day.” Miller is a skilled arranger, taking tunes meant for full orchestration, paring them down to their essence, and making them sound like they were written for six strings.

Miller’s electric, steel-string, and nylon-string guitars are captured beautifully by recording engineer Lauren Passarelli, who combined a direct signal and a mic on the two electrics to produce an incredibly intimate sound. A solo guitar record is an artistic challenge, and on Three Sides to a Story Miller proves herself a master of many genres.

Must-hear track: “Gratitude”

Read more:
Premier Guitar Magazine (Jul 11, 2013)

about "The Other Room"

Music full of love and emotion is the product of the Jane Miller Group on The Other Room. The guitarist leads a quartet plus guests through 11 of her compositions, all of which are instilled with a sense of freshness and a feeling of tenderness. Her very clear and lyrical style meshes delightfully with the piano playing of Tim Ray. They often play off each other while moving into the improvised realm, and their combined sound sings with purity. Bob Simonelli on fretless electric bass and Don Kirby on drums round out her quartet, while guest percussionist and flutist Ken LaRoche joins them on seven of the cuts. With three percussionists on board (Miller often dons that role as well) the music takes on a lively and often Latin beat.
The guitar/piano interaction along with the soft percussion leads the recording down a casual. tree-laden country road where troubles do not seem to exist. On "It's OK," LaRoche switches to wood flute to enhance this visual image even further. It is also a tune that allows Simonelli to take the lead while Miller assumes the rhythm guitarist's role. The gentle percussion beat is a constant on much of the recording. allowing Miller to convey her feelings in a peaceful and calming way. On the closing number, Miller plays both guitar and piano while the Arriaga String Quartet provides the lush backdrop to the mildly saccharine tune. Miller's album is arranged in a gentle-hearted way to express warm sentiments that are conveyed very expressively.
Cadence Magazine
"...brilliant in conception and execution. The melody is achingly beautiful...the arrangements bring out both the melody and the rhythm in a fine way...Miller's best work to date. These songs have an inevitability to them-nothing is out of place-her tunes have the characteristic Beethoven quality of being absolutely right note after note."
Chuck Schwager, freelance writer

about "Secret Pockets"

Not having had the benefit of any prior exposure to Jane's music, what first interested me in this CD when it appeared in the GMJM office was the cover. Here's a female guitarist with the de riguere archtop, hmm? I gravitate towards the electric acoustic sound. Was this only a staged publicity photo, I wondered? Was it a visual statement of credibility from a member of the under-represented, under-promoted female jazz musician community? Had she paid the requisite dues? I then opened the jewel case to see a photo of a small child, looking into the pocket of their jean overalls. This child appears many times in other poses throughout the liner notes looking or placing things in different pockets, ergo the "Secret Pockets" title.
In a visual sense I was immediately drawn in and then the audio delivered a subtle and sensitive repertoire of nine classics and two originals by Jane, which answered my questions unequivocally. And upon many replays I continue to find little gems of musicinaship to savor inside its' secret pockets.
Jane has played for close to twenty years, beginning with her education at Berklee College of Music, where she currently resides as a faculty member in high demand. She also became a close friend of Emily Remler (my favorite guitarist with attitude,past tense!) who mentored her early in her career. Jane has played around the New England area with her accompanists, bassist Bob Simonelli and drummer Don Kirby, for almost as long.
This music evidences their long partnership. There is an intuitive, right brained sense between all three, where the interplay and supporting lines belie having played many dates together. All nine classics are inventive but recognizable departures from the originals. I especially enjoyed the group's intros and endings, which are usually the bane of performance etiquette.
"Summertime" opens the set and is disguised, until the head, because of the unique drum and bass part which reappears later in the tune. Jane's spacious and open chord voicings and solos leave ample room for constant interchange between the three and her melodic devices frequently outline this famous melody. The trio also performs "Body and Soul" in a Bossa context. What a welcome remake of this pensive standard which has become one of many guitarist's SAT's. Another of my favorites is "The Days of Wine and Roses" which is taken up tempo and demonstrates the trio's ability to "swing hard and take no prisoners."
The best cuts are Jane's two originals, "Amigo," and "Secret Pockets." The measure of any musical composition is its ability to stay with you. I found myself singing these melodies constantly as I went about my daily mundane tasks. "Amigo" brings on board Jay Ashby on trombone and Bill O'Connell on piano. Jay's haunting and melancholic extension of Jane's melody line launches one back to memories of love affairs dissolving, as one walks away with thoughts of what might have been, but also with the solace and optimism that new adventures await around the bend. On "Secret Pockets," Jane's last straight ahead chorus builds to a crescendo and then Bill O'Connell follows with his own legato improvisational restatement of the head. Both originals are elegant and sophisticated compositions, not just a series of changes which the musicians blow over.
Her chord melodies and solo lines continue throughout the eleven tunes which also include "Pebble Beach," "Waltz New" (Jim Hall), "Footprints," "Dolphin Dance," "Stella by Starlight," and "Blue in Green." Her style is an easy listen and allows for synergistic artistry by the other members of the group.
The liner notes say that Jane started performing as a folk guitarist, which further explains her unselfish and supportive style and her gravitation to the archtop as her performance instrument. This is a brilliantly composed, arranged, and performed assemblage of styles and content which teases you into listening for what's inside the next pocket. "Secret Pockets" demonstrates that Jane Miller's playing is "in the pocket" and it should be on everyone's CD rack.
Ernie Pugliese - Green Mountain Jazz Messenger
"...What a beautiful line-up of tunes with such brilliant treatment. Jane Miller immediately won me over.. Be assured we're playing it here in Texas and Arkansas."
Jerry Atkins - KTXK Radio,Texarkana, TX
"Minimalist. Tonal. Beautiful. These words describe the music of jazz guitarist Jane Miller."
Brian Goslow - Worcester Phoenix
"..a joyful journey built on eloquent phrasing and imaginative arrangements. She is a graceful performer with a calm presence in contrast to the player who seems to push the envelope both technically and musically."
Richard Fox - WCUW radio, Worcester,MA
"..very hip and soulful..."
Lenny Mazel - KCME radio, Colorado Springs,CO
"...lots of music for the instrumentation."
Buddy Moreno - WSIE radio, St. Louis, MO
The untimely demise of Emily Remler from a heart attack more than 10 years ago, left a void in the ranks jazz guitarists in general and female guitar players in particular. Now comes Jane Miller out of the Boston area who seems to have the technique and the ability to apply it to fill that void. On this her second album (her first one was Postcard ), she applies a variety of rhythmic patterns to a tasteful play list of familiar pop and jazz standards plus two of her originals. It's no surprise that Miller's sound is influenced by a number of guitar players from the past, including Wes Montgomery, Billy Bauer and Jim Hall.

The variety of approaches she takes to musically addressing the material chosen for this album is one of the session's great strengths. Henry Mancini's “Days of Wine and Roses” is an up tempo burner with Miller adventurously improvising above the melody line and getting some excellent support from pianist Bill O'Connell. This track recalls the Bill Evans/ Jim Hall collaborations of the 1960's. The classic standard “Summertime” is built on around an African beat, while one of the most recorded tunes of all time, “Body and Soul”, is done as a bossa nova. “Stella by Starlight” is typically performed somberly and seriously consonant with the haunting nature of this tune. Throwing aside convention, Miller does it with a jazzy, medium lilt with just the right harmonies coming from the guitar as she and bass player Bob Simonelli have a bit of fun with this Ned Washington/Victor Young composition written for the cult film The Uninvited.

These popular music standards are complemented by the presence of jazz material composed by foremost modern jazz musicians. Wayne Shorter's “Footprints” and Herbie Hancock's “Dolphin Dance” allow Miller to display her ability to deal with fairly complex material and make it sound melodic and interesting. But it is the Miles Davis/Bill Evans seminal composition “Blue in Green” which I found the most persuasive in this category of music. Done as a duo of Miller and Simonelli with long flowing, uninterrupted lines, the performance testifies to Miller's sensitivity to what she is playing and her ability to move that sensitivity through her instrument to the audience. It's quite impressive. The mellow trombone of Jay Ashby joins on Miller's “Amigo”. A longish six 1⁄2 minute piece, very introspective with a good harmonic structure, it is a tribute to Miller's compositional qualities.

Secret Pockets has all the elements to make it the quality session it is, eclectic play list with a talented group of musicians determined to translate the play list into a pleasurable listening experience.

Tracks:Summertime; Pebble Beach; Amigo; Waltz New; Body and Soul; The Days of Wine and Roses; Footprints; Secret Pockets; Dolphin Dance; Stella by Starlight; Blue in Green
Boston based Jane Miller, brand new to these ears, is a member of the faculty at the Berklee School of Music who plays a warm, vibrant guitar in the manner of a Jimmy Raney, Billy Bauer or Jim Hall (one of whose compositions, the digitally challenging "Waltz New," is included on her second recording, Secret Pockets ). As (I'm ashamed to say) most mainstream guitarists sound pretty much the same to me, the choice of music is of great interest, and Miller's choices are consistently rewarding. They encompass two of her own compositions, the insouciant "Amigo" and softly rockin' "Secret Pockets," Jazz originals by Vince Guaraldi ("Pebble Beach"), Wayne Shorter ("Footprints"), Herbie Hancock ("Dolphin Dance") and Miles Davis/Bill Evans ("Blue in Green") alongside the standards "Summertime" (whose natural warmth is enlivened by African rhythms), "Body and Soul," "Stella by Starlight" and a delightful uptempo reading of Henry Mancini's "Days of Wine and Roses." To add color and variety, trombonist Jay Ashby joins the trio on "Amigo" and adds percussion on "Body and Soul," while pianist Bill O'Connell sits in on "Amigo," "Days of Wine and Roses" and "Secret Pockets." The finale, "Blue in Green," is a soft-flowing duo by Miller and bassist Simonelli (who is resolute throughout, as is drummer Kirby). This is an admirable trio date, and further convincing evidence that there's a wealth of unrecognized talent abiding in almost every nook and cranny in this wonderful country we call home.

Track listing: Summertime; Pebble Beach; Amigo; Waltz New; Body and Soul; The Days of Wine and Roses; Footprints; Secret Pockets; Dolphin Dance; Stella by Starlight; Blue in Green (56:47).
Premier Guitar Magazine (Jul 11, 2013)

about "Postcard"

...The guests on "postcard" support Miller without taking away from her own group. Her guitar style is rooted in a contemporary jazz sound, but it is very different from others in the field. Jazz guitar may be associated more with the speedy playing of Larry Coryell and John McLaughlin, but Miller prefers a softer touch and low, full-bodied tone. She alternates between fingering and picking the strings,and either way tends to craft a rich organic sound. Her style translates well on spirited numbers like "Neighborhood" and meditative pieces like "Where's Saturn." though she fits more in the contemporary camp of jazz, Miller nails some daunting arrangements on the lengthier songs she pieces together with timing changes and sudden shifts in rhythm. So while it is contemporary, Miller's music is far from the mundane pop-jazz blend of jazz's trendier new artist concocting...
Scott McLennan - Worcester Telegram and Gazzette
WFNX 101.7 FM
Top Ten Jazz Brunch

#8 Jane Miller "Postcard"
The Boston Phoenix
Guitarist Jane Miller's debut recording-Postcard, on Pink Bubble Records-is like a small portfolio of watercolors by Georgia O'Keefe. Her compositions are filled with brightly colored sonorities and are rich with silver linings and expansive vistas. Of the 10 pieces on the disc, eight are original. The covers are standards that fit neatly into the tonal scheme: Rogers and Hart's "Falling in Love With Love" and Johnny Mercer's perennial favorite, "Autumn Leaves."
Miller evokes impressions of Wes Montgomery, Jim Hall, and her onetime teacher Emily Remler-guitarists known for their lyricism. Her melodies are woven into the harmony in search of melodic and harmonic convergence. She prefers to paint her pictures with the pure sound of the instrument rather than with amp devices.
Miller's regular unit-pianist Tim Ray, bassist Bob Simonelli and drummer Don Kirby-is joined by special guest vocalists Mili Bermejo and Patty Larkin, saxophonist Cercie Miller, guitarist Mick Goodrick, and percussionist/flutist Ken LaRoche. The guests complement the leader effectively. The singers use their voices like horns, vocalizing syllables rather than words. Regular group member Tim Ray's thematic approach to soloing is particularly sharp.
To close the record, guitarists Miller and Goodrick pair off to perform a duet called "Prayer," a peaceful composition of consonant harmony that softly tiptoes away in quiet slippers.
At times Miller's quality of softness and avoidance of the push and pull, tensions and release give her work a lack of drama. But make no mistake, this is no New Age slice of ear pudding. Instead, Miller gives us music on the gentle side of jazz.
Chet Williamson - Worcester Magazine
"...Her compositional style is very impressionistic and her guitar playing is a means to that end."
Chet Williamson - Worcester Magazine
Jane Miller started off her guitar career on the folk circuit, but like so many serious instrumentalists, she found the pull of jazz irresistible. As evidenced by her fine self-produced CD, "Postcard," Miller occasionally veers toward New Age mellowness (she copyrights her original tunes under the name Channeling Music). But when the music gets busy, her at-one-with-the-universe attitude has a soothing effect. Her forays into bebop are smooth, relaxed, and surprisingly warm-positively centered. Nothing frenetic here, and plenty worth listening to.
Brian Goslow - Worcester Phoenix
"...her signature sound, which she delivers with a venerable hollow-body instrument, is bell clear, well crafted, and showcases a keen melodic sense."
William Tandy Young - Blues Wire