Smooth Jazz Artists Biography

Biography

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Duncan Millar grew up near London and played the piano from an early age. Although he studied classically his great passion was jazz and in particular jazz pianists such as Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea. After playing jazz in small groups at college and on the local scene he pursued this interest by moving to Boston, Mass., where for two years he studied jazz piano and arranging and also film-scoring at Berklee College.

Returning eventually to the UK music scene he worked as a session keyboard player, in particular with artists such as soul-singer Geno Washington and others on Paul Weller’s Respond label. This growing involvement in the UK pop scene led to Duncan forming a vocal/keyboards pop-duo called Blue Mercedes in the late-eighties, and signing to MCA Records. The group’s greatest success was a number-one Billboard dance-chart hit for five weeks, which also did well in the UK national pop-chart.

Later, Duncan moved into pure dance music with a string of club hits, produced and written by him but released under different artist names, including Exoterix which had UK chart hits on Positiva and Union/Virgin Records. He also continued duties as a session-keyboardist with a number of dance-oriented producers including Frankie Foncett and Paul Gotel, and his playing can be heard on releases by Larry Heard, Monie Love and Nu Colours. Projects as producer and co-producer came along as well, with tracks for Diana Brown and Roberts Owens, among others.

Duncan’s interest in the jazz/acid-jazz sphere continued to be strong, however, and he wrote and produced a single, mixing samples and beats with live playing under the name “A-One”. The track, called “West By South West”, was released by WOW Records in Notting Hill, and became a hit on the acid-jazz club scene in London, also winning single-of the-week accolades in the music-press.

Other tracks evolved over time and A-One eventually moved from WOW to Indochina Records, finally releasing an album called “Free Association”. Tracks from the album were also included on U.S. compilation albums, including several from labels such as Instinct, NYC, and Moonshine, LA, and also on the UK Streetjazz series.

This led to Duncan signing a solo album deal with Instinct Records, NYC, and his album-release Dream Your Dream in August 1998. The album-single “Little Ray Of Sunshine” made it into the U.S. Smooth Jazz Charts and the title-track “Dream Your Dream” was also heavily play-listed on Jazz FM in the UK, along with other tracks. As a result of this album, Duncan also received a nomination as Best UK Jazz Act in the prestigious MOBO music-industry awards held in London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Duncan released a second album, Good To Go, on Instinct in June 2001, with several tracks also receiving steady air-play and continuing to do so. His tracks also appeared on the majority of numerous Instinct smooth-jazz compilations such as Smooth Jazz Radio Hits, The Best of Smooth Jazz Blues and Bossa Brava Caliente. Passion Jazz Records in London also released a compilation, Comin’ Thru’, of tracks from both albums in March 2002, and Duncan played a number of UK gigs to support this, including at the Jazz Café, London.

Now, after an over-long sabbatical, Duncan has re-emerged with a new album, “Fresh Air”. Fresh, because the piano-focused tracks reflect new-found musical influences. Also, because in a changed musical-world, Duncan has forged fresh ways of working, such as self-producing his album on new boutique label Warmday Records.

Duncan returns with ten enticing new tracks. Filled out by a full band comprising some of London’s leading jazz and funk musicians, including sax and trumpet, the keyboard-led melodies take you on a journey through a range of sensuous moods and grooves, ranging from funk to slow-samba to jazz-waltz.

6 thoughts on “Smooth Jazz Artists Biography”

  1. I still remember blue Mercedes, had the “rich and famous” cassette on in my car for months! Used to love the way you referenced other songs within your own. Also, that “would you like a knuckle sandwich” lyric was inspired!

    1. Thanks for message and comments Geoff, David was the lyricist in the band and I remember he was particularly proud of that line! I’ll try to remember to mention it to him next time I see him!

  2. I like many of your tracks. Have you used mostly studio musicians or are you pasting this together at your home studio? If the latter just wondering which audio programs you favor?
    Thank you.

    P.S.

    1. The answer is both Paul, I record myself and musicians mostly in my own studio, and occasionally at their studios. Logic is my main recording software. I used to do some sampling, if that’s what pasting means, a long time ago when that was popular, but haven’t done that recently. That was on some acid-jazz and dance tracks. Thanks for query!

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