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Harry Miller

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The South African-born bassist Harry Miller, after an experience in rhythm & blues and rock groups including Manfred Mann, arrived in England to play bass on the cruise ships heading to New York, where he experienced first-hand the music of Coltrane, Taylor, and Monk from 1961 to 1964. After leaving Geraldo’s Navy, he worked with Mike Westbrook, Mike Osborne, and John Surman, and the Blue Notes arrived to find him already established. He was an organizing powerhouse: with wife Hazel he started the still-operating Ogun label to issue recordings by South African and contemporary European musicians, and he helped create the Lambeth New Music Society with its Grass Roots Jazz Club. Chris McGregor chose him for the Brotherhood of Breath, and he also played in a trio with Osborne and Louis Moholo, Keith Tippett’s big band Centipede and trio Ovary Lodge, Alan Skidmore’s quintet, and worked with Stan Tracey. As a leader Miller concentrated on the more exploratory side of the music, recording a solo album, two duos with trombonist Radu Malfatti, and two trios with Peter Brötzmann and Moholo (both on FMP). In Conference (Ogun, 1978) is a sextet featuring Willem Breuker, and Family Affair (Ogun, 1980) is his own band, Isipingo’s only record. He lived in Berlin, where he recorded Berlin Bones (FMP, 1981) ,and in Holland, where he recorded Down South (Varajazz, 1983) with Bennink, Charig, Wierbos, and Bergin. Harry Miller passed away after a car crash in Holland in 1983.

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