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Canadian Heritage

Joel Miller


Joel Miller (saxophone) Based in Montreal, saxophonist Joel Miller is a renowned contemporary composer and performer.

Ever since he first picked up the saxophone at the age of 10, Joel Miller knew he wanted to be a jazz musician.  His father was a classical composer and professor at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, and Miller grew up in a house filled with music.

At the age of 13, Joel Miller’s parents deposited him at the Jamey Aebersold Jazz Summer Workshop at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia. Miller was the youngest participant, and he caught the eye of trumpeter Kevin Dean, one of the founders of the Jazz programs at both St. Francis Xavier, and McGill Universities. Dean would remember Miller, later teaching him at McGill University. “Joel has always had a very valuable kind of creative thinking, which he combines with hard work and tenacity. He is what jazz musicians are supposed to be - unique, creative and prolific.”

Miller's career really began to take shape in 1996 when he produced his first album "Find a Way" (Page Music). Following critical acclaim for the album, Miller was awarded the coveted Grand Prix Jazz Award at the 1997 Montreal International Jazz Festival. Since then, he has appeared as a leader all across North America, Mexico, Europe, Japan and India and proved to be an important voice on the international jazz scene. His saxophone playing and compositions have been featured on National broadcasts in Canada and Sweden.

An unusually versatile musician, Joel Miller has lead a wide range of ensembles, from numerous traditional Jazz groups, to the electronic infused Latin funk project Honeycomb, to a unique choral collaboration with noted conductor Iwan Edwards’ and his choir Concerto Della Donna. To date, the saxophonist’s recording career spans 14 years, beginning with his debut album, "Find a Way" (1996), followed by " Playgrounds" (1998), "Sky Beneath My Feet" (1999), "…and then everything started to look different…" (2001), "Mandala" (2004) and "Tantramar" (2008).  Along with winning the Opus award in 2005 for concert of the year, Miller’s fourth album "Mandala" made the All About Jazz Publisher Picks, and was chosen by La Presse critic Alain Brunet as one of the top five jazz albums of the year.

Miller has also been nominated for the ADISQ Awards (jazz album of the year), National Jazz Awards (best acoustic group) and the Canadian Independent Music Awards. Joel Miller has performed and recorded with Ingrid Jensen, Geoffrey Keezer, Matt Wilson, Ben Monder, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Denzal Sinclare, Gary Versace and Henry Hey.  Recently his composing and solo features on his wife Christine Jensen’s 2010 release, "Treelines," helped propel the Jazz orchestra to a Juno award for the best contemporary Jazz album of 2011, and an Opus Prize for the best Jazz album of 2011. 

Miller recently released his critically acclaimed album "Swim" on Origin Records, featuring Geoffrey Keezer, Greg Ritchie and Fraser Hollins.


2013 - JUNO Award for 'Contemporary Jazz Album" for "Swim"