Pianist Dave Miller has been a fixture on the Northern California jazz scene for quite a few years. Early in his life he discovered the music of George Shearing whose quintet made bebop accessible in the 1950s, and he considers
Shearing an important influence on his own playing although Miller has his own voice in straight ahead jazz.
George Shearing was born August 13, 1919 so Just Imagine is a celebration of his centennial in addition to being a tribute to his artistry and the wide range of his music. Rather than recreating Shearing’s hits, Miller and his regular trio with bassist Chuck Bennett and drummer Bill Belasco perform both standards and superior obscurities that Shearing had played along the way.
Among the highlights are a joyful version of Billy Taylor’s “One For The Woofer,” “You Took Advantage Of Me” (which has counterpoint in its first chorus between Miller and Bennett that is reminiscent of Shearing and bassist Brian Torff), “The Bebop Irishman” (a Ray Bryant piece that had not been recorded since 1963), and “I’d Love to Make Love to You” which was introduced by Nat King Cole in 1946. On the latter, Miller plays in the
block hand style that Shearing often utilized.
The other selections include bassist Sam Jones’ catchy “Bittersweet,” “A Beautiful Friendship,” Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation,” “This Time The Dream’s On Me,” a Latin version of “A Time For Love” and “All My Tomorrows.”
The pianist also adds variety to the program by creating a duet apiece with Bennett (“You Must Believe In Spring”) and Belasco (Jim Hall’s “Careful”) and two unaccompanied solos (“A Foggy Day” and “Just Imagine”).
On Just Imagine, Dave Miller is very much in the spotlight, performing George Shearing-inspired music that will delight anyone who loves straight ahead jazz.
Amazing George Shearing Piano tribute Dave Miller Trio – JUST IMAGINE: One of the sweetest things about being a music reviewer who has been on-the-scene for a few years is that I know wonderful albums will always be coming my way, and in the case of this amazing George Shearing Piano tribute from Dave Miller, it’s a piano-lover’s dream… since this doesn’t release until October, 2019, you won’t find samples up yet, so you’ll have to trust my ears until I’m told they’ve been posted; in the meantime, be sure to SUBSCRIBE to Dave’s TOPIC channel on YouTube, to see & hear previous performances.
The new release features Dave’s marvelous piano, of course, and he’s joined by Chuck Bennet on bass and Bill Belasco doing drums… tunes like the opener, “One for the Woofer” will make you fall in love with the trio immediately… lively, with rich tones and superb recording, it’s one of the best piano-led performances I’ve heard (yet) in 2019.
You’re not going to believe the “zest” you’ll hear on “The Bebop Irishman”… the tempo is WAY “up”, and you’ll find yourself dancin’ ’round the room as though you just found your own pot-o-gold!
A slightly more laid-back mood is projected on “A Foggy Day”, with the piano having just a great time all the way through the tune… SOLID, SOLID, folks.
After listening through the album twice, it was easy to choose my personal favorite of the fourteen splendid jazz adventures offered up… the title track and closer, “Just Imagine”, a beautiful unaccompanied solo… I predict that this tune will be getting some MAJOR airplay on jazz stations ’round the globe.
I give Dave and his players a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) score of 4.98 for this fine album.
-Contemporary Fusion by Dick Metcalf
August 13 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the prominent English jazz pianist George Shearing (1919-2011). The teachings of the London school for blind children made a brilliant career in the homeland of jazz in the States, which in itself is an achievement for a foreigner, created if not a new jazz language (most of his works are still in the mainstream of bop), then his own “dialect” is for sure. The peculiar manner of playing the piano, an excellent quintet, one of the best small compositions in jazz, bright own compositions – all this made Sir George (received the title of Knight of the British Empire in 2007) a role model for many pianists in jazz.
Northern California American Dave Miller is one of those who grew up on Shearing music and formed his own playing technique under his influence. In honor of the centenary of the birth of his idol, Miller and his trio recorded the Just Imagine tribute album. Dave himself recalls in this connection: “When I was very young, it was difficult for me to understand bebop. But then I heard the George Shearing quintet, loved to listen to the unison guitar, vibraphone and piano, and appreciated its sound. My interest in Shearing grew even more after he dismissed his quintet, and I began to listen to his duets with such cool bassists as Neil Swainson and Brian Peat. I liked both his solo recordings and his work with vocalists. I found that his game always inspires me, thanks to his level and depth. It influenced my own style. ”
Miller is already far from young himself, suffice it to say that he has been working with his drummer Bill Belasco for over forty years! True, the third member of the band, bassist Chuck Bennett, has been working with Miller for only two years. The idea to record this tribute album came to the musicians when they jammed for their own pleasure after concerts with Miller’s daughter, jazz vocalist Rebecca DuMane. True, the program of the tribute looks rather peculiar: among the 14 tracks we will not find a single composition of George Shearing, but all of them sooner or later were in his repertoire. Mostly they are all performed in trio format, but in a couple of cases, the plays A Foggy Day and Just Imagine, Miller plays solo, without accompaniment. By the way, he sometimes even copies Sharing’s technique, playing in the so-called “bound hands” style. Two more compositions of the program are duets: in one case, Miller plays with his bass player (romantic You Must Believe in Spring by Michel Legrand), and in another he sets such a heat with his old partner Belasco (Careful beautiful guitarist Jim Hall) that I would call the best on the disk. In general, for fans of the good old-school bop, the album will be a wonderful gift. Yes, and Shiring is certainly worth remembering.
-Jazz Squad by Leonid Auskern
Pianist Dave Miller leads his trio of bassist Chuck Bennett and drummer Bill Belasco like The Dodgers’ Dave Roberts, pulling and switching players to best effect. Yes, there are some wonderful trio moments, with Belasco on swinging brushes for bopping pieces like “One For The Woofer” and a clever jig of “The Bebop Irishman.” The trio goes uptown on the tie and tails “A Time For Love” and is sweet on “A Beautiful Friendship.” More fun are the moments with Miller changing the lineup; he does a romantic duo with Bennett on “You Must Believe In Spring” and plays caroms with Belasco on a snappy “Careful.” Going it alone, he is charming on “ A Foggy Day” and as elegant as a baby llama wool sweater on “Just Imagine.” A trio in various numeric permutations.
-JazzWeekly by George Harris
The piano, bass and drums dance onto the scene in synchronicity and with joy. There is nothing like a solid jazz trio to entertain us. This recalls the days when every major hotel had a good jazz trio at their comfortable lounges to set the mood and improve the ambience. Dave Miller delivers the melody of each one of these classic songs and makes me want to sing along. I never noticed that the familiar tune, “You Took Advantage of Me,” sounded so much like “Taking A Chance on Love,” until I heard Miller’s arrangement of it. Those two songs would make a great medley of tunes. Miller, Bennet and Belasco include a variety of songs, including those from the great American songbook and from unforgettable composers like Billy Taylor, Sam Jones, Rodgers & Hart, Gershwin, Charlie Parker and Michel LeGrand. This is pleasant journey down a very musical memory lane.
-Musical Memoirs by Dee Dee McNeil
Pianist Dave Miller has been a part of the jazz scene in Northern California for a few years. Early in his life he discovered the music of George Shearing, whose quintet made bebop popular during the 1950s. He therefore considers this a major influence on his own music. This new CD will be released on October 4. It is therefore a celebration for the centenary of the birth (13/8/1919) of Shearing. Dave joins bassist Chuck Bennett and drummer Bill Belasco to bring both classics and obscure songs from Shearing. “One for the Woofer” is given a playful approach, followed by “You Took Advantage of Me”. On ‘The Bebop Irishman’ he goes completely crazy, followed by ‘I’d Love to Make Love to You’, introduced by Nat King Cole in 1946. ‘Bittersweet’ is just as playful, after which it is calm. on ‘A Foggy Day’. “A Beautiful Friendship” sounds good, followed by a cover of Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation.” Michel Legrand’s classic “You Must Believe in Spring” is next. Furthermore, a Latin version of “A Time for Love” and a solo piano on the title track. A must for those who love straight ahead jazz.
-KeysandChords.com by Patrick Van de Wiele