Dr. John Mills has long been one of Texas’ most in-demand saxophonists, arrangers, and composers. He not only plays and writes across a complete spectrum of jazz styles --- from mainstream to experimental, from big band to fusion to chamber jazz, but he is also active in virtually every other genre of contemporary music. His interests and creative experience extend to R&B, salsa, classical, world music, blues, country, funk, rock, folk, gospel, and more --- all of which he pursues both in concert and in the recording studio. During his diverse professional career he has performed, arranged, and composed for a vast number of CD’s, film/TV soundtracks, and jingles.
Besides his prolific work as a studio performer, John has produced and recorded two CD’s for Fable Records under his own name: John Mills TIMES TEN Caffeine Dreams and John Mills Invisible Designs, featuring Carmen Bradford, both of which showcase exclusively his innovative original compositions. He is also the musical director, conductor, and primary composer/arranger of The Backyard Symphony pops orchestra, and is composer and co-lyricist of the musical theatre work VineLand which toured major U.S. cities in 2007.
Mills has appeared on numerous Austin City Limits PBS television broadcasts over the years, including performances with Ray Benson, Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Sara Hickman, Patti Page, Beto and the Fairlanes, W.C. Clark, Miss Lavelle White and Los Lonely Boys, and composed the opening theme for one of that popular series’ early seasons.
In his musical travels John has performed in concert with such jazz luminaries as Maria Schneider, Kenny Wheeler, Carla Bley and Steve Swallow, played shows with such R&B icons as Bonnie Raitt, Dr. John, Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin, and written commissioned orchestral arrangements for such diverse artists as Asleep at the Wheel, Rosanne Cash, Indigo Girls and David Byrne.
Mills has composed extensively for both professional and university jazz ensembles, including many charts published by Walrus Music and ejazzlines. His If Memory Serves, was awarded First Prize in the ArtEZ Jazz Composition held at the 2008 Grolsch International Jazz Festival in Enschede, the Netherlands. John has also written classical pieces for the Tosca String Quartet, the Wild Basin Winds, and Solistico de Santiago (Chile).
Dr. Mills is a Professor of Jazz Studies at UT-Austin’s Butler School of Music, where he teaches jazz saxophone, composition, arranging and history.