Dr. John Mills is a saxophonist and composer/arranger based in Austin, Texas, where he pursues a wide range of concert and recording projects within the jazz idiom and beyond. He has enjoyed the opportunity to perform with such internationally prominent jazz artists as Steve Swallow, Carla Bley, Butch Miles, Kenny Wheeler and Maria Schneider during his career. John currently leads the high-energy, ten-piece fusion ensemble Times Ten, which features his compositions and whose acclaimed first CD, Caffeine Dreams, is available on Fable Records.
Outside of the jazz realm he has worked on stage or in the recording studio with such R&B icons as Bonnie Raitt, Dr. John and Aretha Franklin, alternative pop artists David Byrne and Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead), and country stars including Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel, Lyle Lovett, and Willie Nelson. His orchestral arrangements for major artists such as these have been performed by symphonies across the U.S. and abroad.
John has composed extensively for both professional and university jazz ensembles, including a number of works published by Walrus Music. He was awarded First Prize at the 2008 ArtEZ International Jazz Composition Contest in the Netherlands for If Memory Serves, and in 2009 he collaborated with UT Professor Jeff Hellmer to score the first full orchestration of Duke Ellington’s unfinished folk-opera, Queenie Pie.
Among his educational activities, Dr. Mills has presented jazz master classes at the Royal Danish Academy in Aarhus, the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory in St. Petersburg, the University of Greifswald (Germany) and the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia. He is an Associate Professor of Jazz Studies in the Butler School of Music, where he teaches jazz saxophone, composition, arranging and history.
A word from Dr. Mills about his piece:
Over the summer shutdown I wanted for Times Ten to stay active in some way, and to deliver some bit of entertainment to our loyal Elephant Room fans.
I decided to write something new for a virtual concert project, rather than repeat a chart already in the books.
First I created a MIDI template so that we could each record on a “music minus one” model, and we each learned the chart and heard it for the first time as we recorded our parts in isolation.
The band members had varying resources to record and self-video, but the plan was the equalize those differences in the final mix.
The “Basement” refers to the Elephant Room itself, and we are all operating now from our personal basements, or garages, or treehouses, as the case may be. The “Panorama” is strictly in our minds.
I called on my longtime musical pal and Times Ten pianist Hank Hehmsoth (on the faculty at Texas State) to put together the video from all the individual submissions, and he took it to an unexpected level of video editing technique and imagination.
You can find the John Mills Times Ten and John Mills pages on Facebook, and you can follow John Mills on Instagram.
Personnel on “Basement Panorama”:
Alto Sax – Jake Lampe Tenor Sax, Composer, Producer – *John Mills Bari Sax – *Joey Colarusso Trumpet – *Mike Sailors Trumpet – *Adrian Ruiz Trombone – Michael Mordecai Guitar – Russell Scanlon Piano – Hank Hehmsoth Bass – *Kris Afflerbaugh Drums – Kirk Covington
(* UT Jazz Alumni or Faculty)
Video by Hank Hehmsoth Mixing Engineer – Andre Moran Mastering by Mark Hallman at Congress House Studio on Fable Records (fablerecords.biz)