TIMES TEN is a powerhouse 10-piece ensemble on the renowned Austin, Texas scene. Rhythmic drive, melodic surprise and harmonic imagination are the band’s signature – the leader’s innovative compositions putting a contemporary, groove-based spin on big band tradition. Critics described Mills’ writing on TIMES TEN’s first recording, Caffeine Dreams, as “channeling latter-day modern visionaries into a dynamic group sound that crackles with energy.” Their follow-up CD on Fable Records, Flying Blind, is slated for release in Fall 2015.
TIMES TEN has appeared monthly at one of Texas’ premiere jazz venues – The Elephant Room -- since their debut in January 2009. The band performed recently in San Diego, CA at the 2015 JEN (Jazz Education Network) Annual Conference, to the appreciation of a jazz audience who heard the group live in concert for the first time. TIMES TEN returns to the gargantuan SXSW Music Festival again in March 2015, to contribute its own brand of musical madness to the festival mayhem!
John Mills Invisible Designs featuring Carmen Bradford
INVISIBLE DESIGNS is a harmonically sophisticated, rhythmically energetic original song cycle that explores an uncommon fusion of jazz and progressive pop influences. Some points of comparison might include Steely Dan/Donald Fagen, Sting’s Dream of the Blue Turtles Band, or Esperanza Spalding’s Radio Music Society, but its direction is its own. Invisible Designs’ outside-the-box lyrics, rather than being a commercial compromise, are at the core of this project’s artistic direction and are in fact “found poems” derived from classic literary sources. While the musicians involved in this project are first and foremost jazz musicians, the music crosses many stylistic boundaries, and its appeal extends beyond the jazz core audience.
Among the performers on Invisible Designs are:
Carmen Bradford, who sings every track, has been the featured vocalist for the Count Basie Orchestra ever since Basie himself hired her out of John’s jazz-funk band Minor Miracle many years ago! Special guests including world-renowned rock guitar virtuoso Eric Johnson and keyboardist extraordinaire Jim Beard, well known for his extensive credits with Michael Brecker, Mike Stern and many other greats.
The Texas Horns
THE TEXAS HORNS are Mark “Kaz” Kazanoff – Tenor Sax, Al Gomez – Trumpet, and John Mills on Baritone Sax. These three guys have been working together on more blues festival appearances and recording sessions than anyone can count over the last 15 years. They’ve created their spontaneous horn section magic with acts including Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, Dr. John, Los Lobos, Los Lonely Boys, and the Allman Brothers Band -- and the list keeps growing. TTH have just released their own long-awaited CD on Vizztone Records, Blues Gotta Holda Me, with tracks spanning from Chicago blues to vintage jump swing, from New Orleans grooves to rockin’ originals. The rhythm section boasts Austin blues maestros Barry “Frosty” Smith – Drums and Derek O’Brien – Guitar, and the special guest stars include Marcia Ball, W.C. Clark, Nick Conolly, Anson Funderburg, Roscoe Beck and Johnny Nicholas. Check it out, y’all!
The Backyard Symphony
THE BACKYARD SYMPHONY is a 50-piece pops orchestra comprised of the finest orchestral and studio musicians in Austin. John Mills serves as conductor/arranger/musical director and the repertoire includes interpretations of classics by Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton, George Gershwin and The Beatles, in addition to his premiere compositions for this ensemble. In combination with the logistical command of Michael Mordecai and BBA Management, the Backyard Symphony made its unforgettable debut in April 2014, and there is more to come!
UT Jazz Orchestra
This outstanding student ensemble has premiered in the neighborhood of 50 new big band works by Dr. Mills over the years, which he guest conducts in concert. His "If Memory Serves" won First Prize at the 2008 International ArtEZ Jazz Composition Contest in the Netherlands, and received its subsequent U.S. premiere with this group. Among his originals for the UTJO -- Story Lines and Door Number Four -- were featured at the Center for Jazz Composition College Music Society (CMS) and conferences, respectively, and In the Thick of It was the title track for the ensemble’s latest release on Longhorn Records.
Two of John’s most recent works – “Box Inside the Box” and “Hemispheres” -- were premiered in Santiago, Chile in September 2014 by Solistico de Santiago, a string
ensemble comprised of some of that nation’s finest symphonic performers.
His latest piece for string quartet, “Speak As One,” reached the playoff round at the Second String Quartet Smackdown in February 2015, and was performed live by the
Friction Quartet from San Francisco. Other ensembles that have performed or recorded his chamber works include the Tosca Strings, The Wild Basin Quintet, Quinteto Respira (Spain), Tex-Sax and the UT
In August, John will record a collection of new works that explore the meeting ground of chamber classical and jazz sensibilities. This CD is scheduled for February
2016 release on Longhorn Records/Naxos.