This week, let's get acquainted via video with drummer Sammy Miller and his band, the Congregation.
The NYC-based group will make their St. Louis debut next week as part of an educational residency for Jazz St. Louis, wrapping up their time here with performances on Friday, October 27 and Saturday, October 28 at Jazz at the Bistro.
Along with Miller on drums and vocals, the Congregation includes Alphonso Horne (trumpet), Ben Flocks (tenor sax), Sam Crittenden (trombone), David Linard (piano), and John Snow (bass).
Their debut album The Mixtape, released earlier this year, contains a mix of originals and covers, including several familiar standards. It isn’t traditional jazz, but perhaps there’s this idea of joyful jazz: music that’s medicinal and can uplift people,” Miller said in an interview with Jewish Journal.
You can see for yourself what that's like in today's videos, starting with the first clip up above, which features Miller and the Congregation performing Duke Ellington and Bubber Miley's Black and Tan Fantasy" in 2015 at Ginny's Supper Club in Harlem.
After the jump, there's a video of them doing the New Orleans standard Li'l Liza Jane," recorded in 2017 at Live at The Woods in Brooklyn, New York.
That's followed by two tracks recorded in April of this year at the studios of KNKX Public Radio in Tacoma, WA, Swing Low Sweet Chariot" and Antonio," and “Blues Don’t Bother I,” recorded in January 2016 at Sofar New York.
The final video shows a full set of Miller and the Congregation recorded in April 2016 at the Millennium Stage of the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good. I was 16 at the time. I went to Tower Records and purchased a CD by Wes, and I was hooked from the very first ten seconds. The sound of the song Lolita illuminated my bedroom, as I just sat back amazed at how colorful and soulful this music was--I understood it, even though at the time I didn't understand how to go about playing it. I get chills listening to Wes' solo on Lolita, and I can still listen to that song ten times in a row and never get tired of it. There is a truly timeless quality to genuinely spontaneous jazz music, and it is that quality that has inspired me to devote my life to studying and playing this music.