Following their award-winning collaboration with the father of Ethio jazz, Mulatu Astatke (Mojo magazine Top 50 of the year 2009, Sunday Times World Music Album of the year), pioneering UK collective The Heliocentrics resurface alongside another fascinating jazz enigma, ethno-musicologist, jazz maestro and multi-instrumentalist, Lloyd Miller.
Learning various instruments and immersing himself in New Orleans jazz through his father, a professional clarinet player, Lloyd Miller first trained himself in the styles of George Lewis and Jimmy Giuffre and cut his first Dixieland jazz 78 rpm record in 1950. During the late ‘50s, his father landed a job in Iran and Miller began to develop a lifelong interest in Persian and Eastern music forms, learning to play a vast array of traditional ethnic instruments from across Asia and the Middle East.
He toured Europe heavily, basing himself in Switzerland, Belgium, Sweden, Germany (where he played with Eddie Harris and Don Ellis) and, most famously, in Paris where he worked with oddball bandleader Jef Gilson, a phenomenon in French jazz during the early ‘60s. Miller returned to the Middle East during the ‘70s, landing his own TV show on NIRTV in Tehran under the name Kurosh Ali Khan. His show became a national fixture and ran for seven years.
Miller has since been a vocal ambassador for preserving the traditions of many forms of Eastern music. In recent years, his mid-‘60s album ‘Oriental Jazz’ has become a collector’s favourite and the UK’s Jazzman label have issued a compilation, ‘A Lifetime In Oriental Jazz’, covering work from across his career.
The renewed interest in his music has spawned this new collaboration with The Heliocentrics. Emerging from an acoustic jazz session in 2007 set up by Jazzman (and now released as the Lloyd Miller Trio EP on the same label), the new album project was recorded at The Heliocentrics’ Quatermass Studios in East London during January and February 2010, a fresh, freeform mix of Eastern arrangements, jazz and angular psychedelics. The recordings involved a number of ethnic instruments that Miller has played and studied throughout his career including the oud, Phonofiddle, Indian santur, Chinese shawm and wooden flute. Tracks include the reflective, yearning ‘Spiritual Jazz’, the cinematic ‘Electricone’ and ‘Lloyd’s Diatribe’ featuring a Miller sermon on impure music and the madness of our globalised existence.