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j e a n n i n e   &   r u s s   m i l l e r
 
  1. It’s All Right With Me 2:49
  2. Close Your Eyes 3:08
  3. So Many Stars 4:47
  4. Secret Love 5:31
  5. All Or Nothing At All 4:47
  6. La Paloma 2:43
  7. I’m All Smiles 4:12
  8. You Don’t Know What Love Is 3:21
  9. Right As The Rain 6:00
  10. The Lamp Is Low 3:10
  11. Lujon (Slow Hot Wind) 3:18
  12. The Best Thing For You Would Be Me 4:09
  13. Two For The Road 4:54
  14. Total Program: 55:49

PKO Records presents Two For The Road, a breathtaking CD featuring two of Detroit's finest jazz musicians vocalist Jeannine Miller and her husband saxophonist, flutist, arranger, composer, educator Russ Miller. Two For The Road is the realization of this musical couple's long-time dream to produce a recording together that showcases their respective talents. Russ Miller and Jeannine Miller are recognized throughout Southeast Michigan for their individual musical accomplishments; Russ Miller is highly regarded as a magnificent jazz alto saxophonist and Jeannine Miller is well loved for her warm and intimate vocal stylings. When they join forces they lift each other up to even greater musical heights.

 

 

Two for The Road features Jeannine's delicious vocals and Russ' outstanding jazz playing and arrangements for various size ensembles of familiar standards and some more obscure material from Henry Mancini, Sergio Mendez, Harold Arlen and Maurice Ravel. Russ and Jeannine Miller are seasoned, veteran jazz masters; they have worked over two years to produce this excellent CD. And we, the listeners, are the happy beneficiaries of their extraordinary talents and efforts.

The title Two For The Road is an appropriate one as this project has been a journey of discovery and musical growth for both Russ and Jeannine. Below, they describe their vision for this CD, the paths they chose, the CD program and they discuss the creative process and the final product.

Russ: I wanted to wrap Jeannine's singing in a variety of textures, colors and styles taking into consideration the timbre of her voice, her vocal style and the kind of tunes she prefers to sing. I also wished to test my abilities as an arranger and performer. What was attempted (and hopefully achieved) was to make a recording of good music done well. The target audience is the mature listener who appreciates subtle sophistication.

It is altogether fitting and proper to recognize the individual musicians who played on this record. And so, I will do so now:

The Big Band:
Saxes: Pete Kahn, Keith Kaminski, Paul Onachuck, Ben Janssen and Mark Berger.
Trombones: Ron Kischuck, Ed Gooch, Bill Barbour
Trumpets: Dave Jennings, Bob Hawkins, Kevin Welling
Piano: Bill Gaff
Bass: Kurt Krahnke
Drums: Dave Taylor

The String Section:
Violin: Charlotte Merkerson, Victoria Haltom, Sharon Reum, Lorrie Gunn, Laura Roelofs, William Starnes
Viola: Linda Tolias
Cello: Karen Wingert
Bass: Kurt Krahnke

Los Gatos:
Timbales: Pete Siers
Congas: Al DiBlasio
Piano: Brian DiBlasio
Bass: Kurt Krahnke

The Trios:
Piano: Vince Shandor and Bill Gaff
Bass: Paul Keller
Drums: Dave Taylor and Sean Dobbins

Additional help from:
Clarinet: Greg Koltyk
Percussion: Dennis Sheridan
Trumpet: Dwight Adams


Jeannine:
In the past, I have played as a saxophonist and flutist in orchestras, shows, big bands and smaller classical ensembles. These days, I usually perform as a vocalist with my long time musical partner, pianist Vince Shandor. Two for The Road is my very first opportunity to perform and record as a vocalist with larger ensembles. My personal approach to Two For The Road was to develop and explore my own interpretations of these songs that I love and often perform on gigs with duos, trios or quartets. I am thrilled to have created this CD with my husband, Russ Miller. Russ not only supported me throughout this recording but challenged me musically in various ways. His clever and thoughtful arrangements blew me away! Russ managed to put his own unique stamp on each arrangement and that personal touch makes this CD so special to me. And his playing is exquisite! We are grateful to our huge team of 32 musicians who contributed in hundreds of ways to make this project something really beautiful. They provided not only fantastic accompaniment and musicianship but also inspiration, love and fun. Thanks, also to our excellent recording engineer David Lau and to our friend and wonderful graphic artist Mark Berger. Their expertise helped us produce the album that we have dreamed of making for a long time. Special thanks to Paul Keller for supporting and directing our efforts on this project from beginning to end. Paul not only contributed his time and musical talent but also offered his extensive experience in the recording industry as well as assistance from his record company PKO Records to showcase our CD. His dedication and passion mean so much to us.


The Program:

It's All Right With Me
Russ: We wanted to start the CD off with some good energy. The opener features some happy bebop over a Cole Porter classic.
Jeannine: This one is really fun! There's lots of space for the musician's to flex their chops. In the studio, we rehearsed this tune once and then recorded it in one take!

Close Your Eyes
Russ: Many musicians perform this song at a brisk tempo - especially at "blowin' sessions". As I became familiar with the lyrics my perspective changed completely and I realized that the true characteristics of this song - tenderness and intimacy - demanded a softer, subtler treatment. With this in mind, Close Your Eyes is the perfect vehicle for woodwinds.
Jeannine: Russ' unique arrangement using woodwinds and trumpet fits this tune perfectly. Close Your Eyes is one of my favorite tunes on this CD. I perform it often on gigs. I wanted my performance to bring out the tenderness of the lyrics. The effect that we were going for was that of someone singing a lullabye softly into your ear. Trumpeter Dwight Adams is awesome. His seductive playing draws the listener in with a soulful blanket of sound.

So Many Stars
Russ: Sergio Mendez's classic bossa nova deserves a lush treatment. Flute, brass and percussion help to create a warm background.
Jeannine: This is a such a beautiful song and Russ' gorgeous treatment compliments my voice so well. The subtle use of the low brass creates a rich, buttery texture that makes it easy for me to sing whatever I feel.

Secret Love
Russ: Secret Love is one of two instrumentals on the CD. On this one I wanted to use the flute in an up-tempo, higher energy context, and to make use of the flute/piano duet.
Jeannine: This is Russ' hip spin on a well known tune that will delight folks with its unusual twists and turns. The piano and flute duet dance lightly over the form, then engage in their individual statements and finally join forces to trade with the drums. I just love it! Pianist Bill Gaff, bassist Paul Keller and drummer Sean Dobbins nailed this one!

All Or Nothing At All

Russ: Slightly funky, swingin' and shoutin' with a big band. Jeannine really gets into the groove of this arrangement and sings with a terrific feeling!
Jeannine: I got excited about singing this song when I heard the arrangement that Russ wrote. I enjoyed the challenge of adapting my style to fit the power of the big band sound. What a thrill!

La Paloma
Russ: This is a complete reharmonization of an old chestnut scored for string orchestra. Through research, I found it has been recorded by more than 2,000 different artists. With her impeccable sense of timing and keen ear for pitch and delivery, Jeannine made this unusual arrangement into something special.
Jeannine: Russ wrote a stunning chart for string orchestra that gives me goose bumps. In preparation, I studied recorded versions of this song by Placido Domingo, Nana Mouskouri, Chago Rodrigo and Dean Martin.

I'm All Smiles
Russ: This is an interesting waltz from the 1965 Broadway production of The Yearling that is not frequently done by other jazz artists. It provides a nice opportunity to feature Jeannine in a jazz quartet setting - her native habitat.
Jeannine: Vince Shandor and our trio create an elegant feeling reminiscent of Vince Guaraldi and 1960s San Francisco. This tune has some unusual melodic and harmonic motion but leads naturally from one tone center to another. I'm all smiles as I recall the fun we had recording this song.

 

You Don't Know What Love Is
Russ: This arrangement was inspired by the recordings of Orchesta Revé and the Cuban danson style. With latin percusion, trombones and violins accompanying, take off your jacket, grab your partner and dance in the street.
Jeannine: This arrangement is a collaboration between Russ and I. We changed the groove from a ballad to a sexy rhumba. Many thanks to Los Gatos, an Ann Arbor-based latin jazz quintet that has recorded several CDs for PKO Records. Los Gatos adds an authentic Cuban feel to this track. You Don't Know What Love Is smolders with passion and unrequited love.

Right As The Rain
Russ: This Harold Arlen piece is a gem. Another perfect vehicle for Jeannine's voice and the quartet.
Jeannine: In the studio at the last minute, our pianist Vince Shandor suggested that we record Right As The Rain. We needed this kind of tune for the CD and Vince and I do this song regularly on duo gigs so it seemed appropriate. Vince plays a great solo on this track. We have been a team for 13 years and he has taught me so much. Vince has introduced me to dozens of cool songs that I otherwise would have overlooked. This obscure piece has become one of my all time favorites.

The Lamp Is Low
Russ: Lamp Is Low is inspired by Ravel's Pavane pour une Infanta defunté. This piece, with its sultry melodic line and suggestive lyrics lends itself nicely to a samba treatment.
Jeannine: I love to sing the slower lyrics superimposed over the energetic accompaniment. The long meter form gives the listener time to understand the meaning the song.

Lujon
Russ: Also called Slow Hot Wind, Lujon is pure Mancini. This is the second of two instrumental tracks on this CD. Flute with strings and latin percussion seemed to capture the essence of the piece without copying the original. Again, Los Gatos adds their Cuban flavor to the mix.
Jeannine: I admire Russ for challenging himself musically. He has always played the "good" notes, the "smart" notes, the "best" notes in his solos but he is pushing himself even further on this CD. I think Russ sounds fantastic and I know the listener will agree with me when they hear Two For The Road.

The Best Thing For You Would Be Me
Russ: This Paul Keller "spontaneous arrangement" sounded so unpretentious and the group was having so much fun, it just had to be included in the lineup.
Jeannine: The feeling here was very relaxed. It came off like we were at a jam session just enjoying ourselves and making music together.

Two For The Road
Russ: The title cut is another Henry Mancini classic. It's an intimate closing to this recording designed to leave the listener feeling "satisfied."
Jeannine: I love the way this CD turned out and Two For The Road feels like the perfect song to close this album that means so much to Russ and me. After many hours spent researching, arranging, scheduling, rehearsing, recording and mixing this CD, it is nice to kick back at the end of it and sing a quiet song of reflection that celebrates how far we've come and acknowledges how far we have yet to travel.

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