Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Loudini Interviews Robert Miller of Project Grand Slam

Jazz Rock Fusion

Robert Miller - bass/leader/composer;
Marcello Casagrandi - piano and keys;
Mario Castro - saxophone;... See More

Record Label
Cakewalk Records

Distributed by SONY/RED

Robert was born and raised in New York City.
“I first took up the bass when I was 14. It was 1965 and the Beatles and the rest of the British Invasion bands were in full swing. I had been playing the trumpet throughout school, but suddenly the trumpet just wasn’t very cool. The guitar was in. So I bought a guitar, taught myself a few chords, and started a band of sorts with a few friends. I became the bass player in the band simply because I already knew the treble cleff and somebody had to learn the bass cleff. My entire musical career evolved from that!”
From that moment on Robert Miller became immersed in music and began the steps that would lead to Project Grand Slam a/k/a PGS, for which he is the leader, bassist and composer.
In November 2015 PGS opened for Scott Weiland (formerly of the Stone Temple Pilots) at the Gramercy Theater in NYC. In May 2016 PGS opened for 4-time Grammy Award nominee Boney James at the Bergen Performing Arts Center in NJ. In July the band was the featured performer at the F.M. Kirby Center For The Performing Arts in PA, and in August the band performed at the Tin Angel in Philadelphia, Garcia’s at The Capitol Theater in Port Chester, NY (after YES), and at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC. In October PGS will again open for Boney James at the Ridgefield Playhouse in CT, and in December the band will be the featured performer at the Highland Lakes Concert Series (NJ).

PGS has also appeared at many of the better clubs in NYC including the Blue Note, Iridium, the Cutting Room, and a continuing monthly residency at The Groove.
In August 2016 the band released its 4th album – “The Queen’s Carnival” – featuring nine original tunes written by Robert that are rich in texture and diverse in feel, while still staying true to the PGS sound. Plus Robert’s totally reimagined cover of The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” (feat. Lucy Woodward on vocals).  As Robert says, “The new album is the work that I’ve been building towards my entire career. It truly captures the two musical genres that have informed my composing and playing – rock and jazz. I consider this a breakthrough album for me and the band.”
“The Queen’s Carnival” has received uniformly rave reviews, including: “Unquestionably one of the year’s best albums!”; “An inspired album…a work of ensemble genius!”; “A uniquely powerful work!”; “A sonic cavalcade of different shades and textures!”; “An album of wide ranging taste and distinction!”; and “Smart, stylish and sophisticated!”. The title tune from the album has similarly garnered rave reviews such as “Party powered happiness!”; “Percolates with restless kinetic energy!”; and “Crackling hot Latin song craft!”. The Official and Live videos of this song have been viewed over 500,000 times to date. And the band’s unique cover of The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” has been called “Astonishing”; “Stunning”; and “Breathtaking”.
PGSʼs prior album (its third) – Made In New York – was released in September 2015 and featured two celebrated singles, “New York City Groove”, Robert’s love letter to his NYC home, and “Fire”, Robertʼs reimagined version of the Jimi Hendrix classic. Both singles featured The Voice semi-finalist Kat Robichaud on vocals. The band and Kat also filmed videos for “Groove” and “Fire” that have been viewed over 150,000 times to date. The reviews of the album and “Fire” were extraordinary, with words like “fantastic”, “damn fine album” and “hard to resist” for the album, and “superb”, “brilliant”, “excellent”, “stunning” and “unbelievable gem” for “Fire”.
“I played rock music exclusively until I was 19, and one of my earliest bass heroes was Jack Bruce of Cream. In fact, don’t tell anyone but I added a little bass figure to “Fire” as a kind of personal homage to Jack Bruce.” I then took up jazz by studying with Jimmy Garrison, John Coltrane’s bassist.”
Robert was a staple of the Boston music scene in the 1970’s, when jazz fusion came into vogue with Miles Davis, Weather Report, Return To Forever and others. His fusion band (which included Anton Fig of Letterman fame) played along side Gary Burton, Sonny Stitt, and Jacki Byard, among others, and played steadily at all the Boston area clubs.
Fast forward to the 1990’s when Robert formed The Robert Miller Group. Their first album, “Child’s Play” (1994), contained Robert’s first original compositions and featured such luminaries as Al Foster (Miles Davis), Randy Brecker (Brecker Brothers), Tony “Thunder” Smith (Lou Reed), Anton Fig and Jon Lucien. The band went on to play at several festivals including the Telluride Jazz Celebration and the San Bernadino Jazz Festival (along side Bruce Hornsby, War and Bela Fleck).
Robert originally began PGS in 2007. The bandʼs first two CDs, Play (2008) and Spring Dance (2012), had three top radio singles – “The Captain Of Her Heart” (feat. Judie Tzuke on vocals) from Play, and “Catch You Later” and the title song from Spring Dance. In 2009 the band also had a featured role in an episode of the hit NBC-TV series Lipstick Jungle starring Brooke Shields and Kim Raver, with five of the bandʼs tunes featured in the soundtrack and Robert having a speaking part.
Says Robert: “What I’m trying to achieve now with PGS is to combine the power and beat of rock with the complexity and improvisation of jazz in a new and exciting way that takes the music to a whole other level”.

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