Legacy, was produced by Edmonton native George Blondheim. Blondheim is recognized internationally as a multi-award
winning composer, producer and pianist.
The nine never-before heard songs were originally recorded in August
1989 at Edmonton’s Beta Sound Recorders. With Big’s untimely passing
in 1992, the recordings remained stored away on a hard drive. Now,
almost 30 years later , Legacy is being released by Chronograph
Records in conjunction with the Yardbird Suite’s 60th Anniversary
celebrations, with proceeds in support of the educational programs
of the Edmonton Jazz Society and Yardbird Suite.
Those who remember Big will now be able to hear that terrific voice,
warm personality and unique delivery once again. A new audience of
jazz lovers will appreciate his beautiful tone and timeless style.
Big and Tommy began working together in the 1970s and travelled
across Canada performing in many musical settings including duo
concerts and CBC broadcasts. This rare moment in studio was intended
as a demo session working toward an album, but fate intervened and
Big and Tommy were never able to make the final recording Blondheim
“Big could sing anything and make it work, and his vast memorized
repertoire of blues, pop and jazz standards was all-encompassing.
When George asked us to do a duet recording, Big and I instantly
agreed. He kept those first tapes (there were tapes in those days!),
and here they are. They evoke very happy memories of a great artist
and a wonderfully big man.” –Tommy Banks
About Big Miller (1922-1992)
Clarence “Big” Miller was a jazz musician, blues singer, trombonist,
and educator born in Sioux City, Iowa. By 1960, Big Miller had sung
with the Jay McShann and Duke Ellington orchestras and recorded with
Bob Brookmeyer, Rex Stewart and Jon Hendricks. Miller made his
Canadian debut in 1962 and took up residence in Vancouver in 1967
before settling in Edmonton by 1970 where he went on to make a
significant impact on the musical and cultural scene. He
subsequently led a variety of small jazz and blues bands in western
Canada but also toured nationally with Phil Nimmons, and travelled
abroad as a soloist. He taught at the Banff Centre and Grant MacEwan
College, and was awarded an honorary doctorate by Athabasca
University in 1985. The subject of the National Film Board
documentary Big and the Blues (1980), Miller recorded several albums
during his Canadian years, including the JUNO Award-winning Jazz
Canada Montreux with the Tommy Banks Orchestra (1978), Live from
Calgary (1982) and Live at Athabasca College (1989). Big Miller with
Tommy Banks' Big Band was released posthumously in 1997. He touched
many lives with his beautiful voice, his energy and most of all, his
love and respect for his fellow human beings. He was an absolute
original soul and talent.
About Tommy Banks (1936-2018)
The Honourable Tommy Banks: Pianist, conductor, arranger, composer,
TV personality, actor, producer, politician.
Tommy Banks studied piano as a child and began his career at 14 in
the band of the jazz saxophonist Don Thompson. He went on to become
a recognized TV personality as host, pianist, arranger, and
conductor for “The Tommy Banks Show,” a talk show airing from
1968-74 and 1980-83 on CBC TV and 1974-76 in syndication. He was
guest conductor of symphony orchestras across Canada, and served as
the Musical Director for many international events including the
Calgary Winter Olympics and the 1978 Commonwealth Games.
Banks was made an Officer in the Order of Canada in 1991, and
inducted into the Alberta Order of Excellence in 1993. Banks
continued as producer and pianist for various performers until 2000,
when he was appointed to the Senate of Canada and began to
concentrate on political responsibilities. He continued to conduct
his own big band until 2003. In 2010 he was the recipient of SOCAN’s
special achievement award for his contributions to Canada’s music
industry and musical heritage.