Lloyd Miller, a complicated man with a fascinating range of musical vocabulary, was known amongst his peers in the ethno-musicologist world as something of a mad genius, having immersed himself in dozens of languages and hundreds of instruments, receiving a doctorate with a concentration in Persian music.
A little under a decade ago, London’s Jazzman Records compiled an exquisite anthology of Miller’s various groups and recordings. Detailing in gorgeous composition, the set exhibits the musician’s enchantment with the music and culture of the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, revealing a unique synthesis expressed through a myriad of spiritual and modal jazz explorations.
One of the collection’s many highlights is “Khamaj,” a mystical and percussive meditation with his Earthtones Combo. At nine and a half minutes, the piece gently ebbs and flows with Miller’s crystalline keys airing out across the scales, as an accompanying saxophone stretches along a meticulously mapped, and elevated, plane. It’s the sound of freedom exercised with an artful restraint; the tabla keeps both order and enigma intact. words / c