Home » Jazz Musicians » Dan Miller

Dan Miller

Dan Miller was born in Waukegan, Illinois on May 31,1969 to John and Virginia Miller. He began playing the trumpet in grade school with the encouragement of his father (his brother David plays the trombone). Growing up, he would listen to records with his father (including Miles, Dizzy, Chet, Maynard, Basie and Sinatra) which helped him form the idea of what jazz trumpet should sound like.

Dan relates, "Chicago in the 1970's and 1980's had an incredibly vibrant jazz scene. There was Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase that had Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Max Roach, Horace Silver, Woody Shaw, Joe Henderson, Phil Woods with Tom Harrell, The Jazztet, The Timeless All Stars with Bobby Hutcheson, Curtis Fuller and Harold Land, Ira Sullivan and Red Rodney, Dexter and Johnny Griffin, etc. When a artist was working as a single they would often be backed by the classic Delmark rhythm section of Jodie Christian, Donald Garrett and Wilbur Campbell. There was Rick's Cafe American that had all of the Norman Granz acts like Dizzy, Oscar Peterson, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Roy Eldridge, Zoot Sims, etc. Mr.Ricky's had all of the organ greats like Jimmy Smith and Jack McDuff. Von Freeman ran the Tuesday night session at the New Apartment Lounge down on 77th Street. Brad Goode started playing with Lin Halliday everywhere, then Eric Alexander moved to town. Bob Koester owned the Jazz Record Mart (the best jazz record store in the world) and used LP's were cheap. Count Basie, Buddy Rich, Woody Herman or Maynard's Band was always coming to town. There was always something swinging happening and fortunately for my brother and I, my dad took us to hear music all the time."

He studied with Nick Drozdoff and Gary Slavo while growing up in Chicago, but points to two specific events which helped him to pursue jazz trumpet. First, he met Bobby Shew in Chicago in 1984, who would become a life long teacher, mentor and friend. "Hearing Bobby was a revelation to me. He blew sensational bebop and such swinging lead trumpet, that I felt that here was a musician that can do it all. Bobby is also one the finest teachers in the world. His down to earth approach puts the student at ease, and allows them to quickly grasp his innovative ideas." Second, was a meeting the same year with Tom Harrell at a Jamey Aeborsold jazz clinic. Harrell was just there for one day, but "he came into the trumpet master class with Hal Galper and proceeded to tear through Cherokee, rhythm changes and the blues in all 12 keys. I sat five feet away from the front of his bell, enamored by that big, burnished sound and thought that this is what I wanted to do."

Read more



Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Blues and Cubes

Flying Horse Records



Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.