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John Miller: Stage Door Johnny

If at any point over the past three decades you’ve seen a Broadway or off-Broadway musical, John Miller likely influenced the experience. As musical director, Miller has worked on more than seven dozen productions, ranging from Tommy, Big River and the Will Rogers Follies to such current hits as Jersey Boys, Grey Gardens and Young Frankenstein. Away from the Great White Way, he has, as a freelance bassist, worked alongside close to 100 of the biggest names in pop, rock, folk and jazz, including Madonna, Sinatra, James Brown, Tony Bennett, Burt Bacharach, Les Paul, Gil Evans and Ornette Coleman.

Now, at age 63, Miller has released his first solo album, built around a dozen vintage delights (the newest of the 12 pieces dates from the early ’60s) that, he says, reflect his “earliest memories and affections” for show tunes. Result: one of the smartest and most delightful Broadway salutes ever crafted. Miller’s gruffly appealing voice carries obvious hints of Kenny Rankin and James Taylor (particularly on lilting, folk-rock readings of “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” and “We Kiss in a Shadow”) with distinct undertones of Steve Tyrell, Dr. John, Peter Allen and Bob Dorough.

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