“a world class bassist.”
jazz bassist | composer
In a town that boasts an unusually large number of top-tier jazz musicians, Doug Miller was one of Seattle’s most respected bass players for 23 years. A mainstay of that regional jazz scene for two decades, Doug appeared in concerts, clubs, clinics and on recordings with many of the world’s leading jazz musicians including James Moody, Ken Peplowski, George Cables, Ray Vega, and Dick Hyman, and he has toured with the Count Basie Orchestra, the Ellington Orchestra, and Ernestine Anderson. He’s a founding member of the critically-acclaimed trio New Stories, and of Big Neighborhood, a quartet that played twenty-first century jazz by merging unusual elements in collage-like compositions that combined unusual energy with edgy improvisation. Doug is also a composer whose compositions are widely recorded, and an educator and former member of the faculty of the University of Washington, where he taught for eight years.
Born in Bloomington, Indiana, Doug is a direct musical descendant of Ray Brown, the pioneering bebop musician who set the standard for jazz bass throughout the second half of the twentieth century. Inspired by the great jazz bands led by David Baker at Indiana University in the late 1960s and early 1970s (which included musicians such as the Brecker brothers), Doug took up the jazz trumpet while in sixth grade and started playing electric bass a few years later. While Doug was in tenth grade, he heard Ray Brown protege and I.U. student John Clayton. Doug began studying with Clayton, who has gone on to become one of the most renowned jazz musicians of the modern era, and Clayton has long been one of Doug’s most important mentors.
Doug studied classical bass at the Indiana University, studying with Murray Grodner, Eugene Levinson and Stuart Sankey. Afterwards he moved to Indianapolis, where he worked as a full-time musician. In 1982, Doug moved to New York City. He worked steadily for the next two and a half years in New York, playing with Mel Lewis, appearing regularly with the piano player Ram Ramirez (composer of the beautiful jazz standard “Lover Man”), and working with a wide range of top players in bebop and Brazilian jazz.
In 1987, Doug moved to Seattle. Following a recommendation from Clayton, Doug contacted Buddy Catlett, the great Seattle bass player who had recorded with Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and Coleman Hawkins. With encouragement from Catlett, Doug was soon playing regularly at Lofurno’s and other Seattle jazz spots.
In 1988, Doug, pianist Marc Seales, and drummer John Bishop began their long musical partnership. Known as New Stories since 1989, the trio was called an “impeccable rhythm section” by JazzTimes magazine and for nearly 20 years, the group produced critically acclaimed music characterized by unusual musical empathy and sensitivity.
New Stories produced four recordings as a trio. The group’s most recent CD, “Hope Is In the Air: The Music of Elmo Hope,” spent four months on the JazzWeek National Airplay chart, and was recorded at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio by Rudy Van Gelder and Maureen Sickler. New Stories also appeared on six recordings with the late bebop saxophone great Don Lanphere, and on “Song for the Geese,” an RCA recording with singer Mark Murphy that was nominated for a Grammy award. A house group for 17 years at the Port Townsend Jazz Festival, the trio performed at the JVC Jazz Festival in Vladivostok, Russia, and appeared in concert with Tom Harrell, Charles McPherson, Conte Condoli, Sonny Fortune, Bobby Shew, Larry Coryell, and Ernie Watts.
In 2004, Doug co-founded Big Neighborhood with guitarist David White, saxophone player Chris Fagan, and drummer Phil Parisot. Big Neighborhood produced two well-received recordings. According to All About Jazz, “11:11,” the group’s most recent CD, “is a cohesive blend of glowing guitar . . . with an ebullient, usually odd-meter bass/drum rhythm team and a succinct alto sax . . . working a precision versus freedom groove about as skillfully and engagingly as it can be done.”
Doug also recorded another adventurous CD with the Ziggurat Quartet, whose members included Eric Barber on saxophones, Bill Anschell on piano and Byron Vannoy on drums. This CD, Calculated Gestures, features original music by Doug, Eric Barber and Bill Anschell.
Doug also produced his own CD, Regeneration, which features his compositions played by multi-instrumentalist Jay Thomas, guitarist Dave Peterson and drummer Phil Parisot.
In addition, to CDs with New Stories, Don Lanphere, Big Neighborhood and The Ziggurat Quartet, Doug has recorded with Brent Jensen, Pete Christlieb, Marius Nordal, Bill Anschell, , Jay Thomas, Cynthia Mullis, and others.
In 2010, Doug moved to Marin County near San Francisco. Since living in the Bay Area, Doug has performed often with pianist Ken Cook’s trio with Alex Aspinall on drums. He has also performed with Benny Green, Akira Tana, Peter Horvath and Michael Wolff since moving to California. A dedicated teacher, Doug continues to pass on the tradition handed down by Ray Brown and John Clayton to a new generation of aspiring young musicians.