I recently had the pleasure of accompanying a team of seven WLTL managers to Manhattan for the annual Intercollegiate Broadcasting System Conference, an event full of awards and informational sessions for student radio stations like our own. While there, our group stopped by Dizzy’s Club, a venue for late night jazz at Jazz At Lincoln Center. It was a part of the trip I highly anticipated; I’m constantly watching performance videos from Dizzy’s Club, and to sit down in the room where they originate had the same eerie familiarity as touring the set of SNL, (which we did the following day). Though, I had one reservation about the performance-- the lead player was a trombonist. When it comes to solo instruments, I always prefer the sweeter tone of a saxophone or a trumpet over a trombone.
But Jeffery Miller is no ordinary trombone player.
Born in New Orleans just twenty two years ago, the prodigy has already graduated Juilliard and toured with Arcade Fire and the Legendary Count Basie Orchestra. The first thing I noticed when he stood up to play was that even with two mutes in his horn, his sound filled every inch of the room. The second thing I noticed, however, was what really shocked me. Each note came out with the careless buttery precision of a saxophone. I have never heard a tone so rich from any instrument in my life, let alone from one that I tend not to enjoy hearing. But with Jeffery Miller’s unparalleled touch, the full deep range of the trombone suddenly came alive for me that night in ways I had never
The theme of the night was Songs About Women, and with each number, he demonstrated the immense respect he has for all of the great women of his life. He openly talked about losing his mother at a young age, and paid her a tribute that he called a work in progress, but I wouldn’t hesitate to use words like masterpiece. He played until one in the morning, but I wasn’t even blinking when he finally finished. Out of an entire weekend in New York City, this single twenty-two-year-old musician was the most interesting part.
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