Marrying electrifying solo voices, an internationally acclaimed orchestra, and some of the all-time best loved musical numbers, Troy Miller’s Gershwin Reimagined – at Royal Festival Hall on Sunday 10 February – has all the elements of a truly enchanting evening. Featuring the voices of Laura Mvula and Shaun Escoffery, backed by the Philharmonia Orchestra, the evening will pay homage to favourites of the Gershwin songbook, including Summertime and I Got Rhythm.
But who is the person responsible for bringing it all together? The man who’s reimagining of Gershwin we’re invited to immerse ourselves in. Introducing the remarkable Troy Miller.
Though not from a particularly musical family, Miller began playing and performing at a young age. A talented multi-instrumentalist from the start, he would play the drums, piano and violin in church as a child. After studying at the Guildhall School of Music – where he is now a visiting professor – Miller began drumming professionally as a session performer; that is before his career stepped up a rung, when Roy Ayers asked him to join him on tour.
After touring with Ayers, other opportunities with major acts followed, and in 2006 Miller got a call from Dale Davis, musical director for Amy Winehouse, asking him to join the singer and her band on her upcoming tour. Initially unsure about the offer, Miller was impressed by Winehouse’s knowledge and appreciation of his own work, and duly accepted. He went on to be an integral part of Winehouse’s band for five years.
The list of names that Miller has performed or toured with as a drummer is a remarkable collection of big name artists and musical talent. From jazz legends Soweto Kinch and Don Blackman to soul sensations Chaka Khan and Donna Summer; the smooth voices of Laura Mvula and Roy Ayers, and the remarkable musical talents of Trevor Horn and Mark Ronson.
For as long as he’s been performing Miller has been writing music, and in 2006 put out his own jazz album 40 Days on Junior Records. In recent years he has made the move from performing with many of the acts he has toured with to writing with them too, and among his many co-writing credits are Rebecca Ferguson’s fourth album Super Woman, and Laura Mvula’s album The Dreaming Room, which was nominated for a Mercury Prize in 2016, and won Album of the Year at the 2017 Ivor Novello Awards. As well as co-writing much of the album, Miller also produced and performed on it.
Recognised as a knowledgable musician Miller found himself being asked to produce records some of the acts he had performed with. From working his first producing gig off a single laptop, Miller has built both his technical knowledge and technical arsenal to become one of the most respected producers working today. As well as his work with Laura Mvula and Rebecca Ferguson, Miller has produced for Adele, Rag n Bone Man, Jamie Cullum and Gregory Porter, who’s 2016 top ten album Liquid Spirit went on to win a Grammy Award for best Jazz vocals.
Ever expanding his talents, Miller has grown from producing to composing and arranging pieces for acclaimed orchestras including the Philharmonia Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, and the BBC Concert Orchestra. In 2017 Miller put together a concert of his own arrangements of Laura Mvula’s studio albums for a special performance in which he conducted the London Symphony Orchestra at London’s Barbican.