Just for a Thrill
Just For A Thrill is Harry's first commercially available CD. The CD includes straight-up jazz and rhythm & blues tunes. Joining him on the CD are his great friends and highly accomplished players Gerald Spaits on bass and Rick Bruner on drums. Several tracks also feature the sensational tones of Stan Kessler on trumpet and flugelhorn. And, Lydia Miller carries the vocals on two songs from the American Songbook.
- 1 – Hallucinations
- 2 – Pannonica
- 3 – Just for a Thrill
- 4 – Soul Station
- 5 – Our Love is Here to Stay
- 6 – Fool's Paradise
- 7 – Bess, You is my Woman Now
- 8 – Lujon
- 9 – Drown in My Own Tears
- 10 – Gemini
- 11 – That Old Black Magic
- 12 – It's Only a Paper Moon
Harry Miller has been a jazz pianist and vocalist in and around the Kansas City area for over 30 years. He has performed in night clubs, restaurants, jazz festivals, and private engagements with some of the great names in jazz, past and present, including Claude "Fiddler" Williams, Karrin Allyson, Carmel Jones, Eddie "Clean Head" Vinson, Kevin Mahogany, Kim Park, and Stan Kessler. As a vocalist, his repertoire covers a variety of musical genres, from rhythm and blues to classic jazz and the American Songbook.
Prior to his immersion in jazz, Harry was an avid rock & roll player, touring the Midwest with his college band mates in the late '60s and early '70s. He enjoyed a change of pace by playing country and western with his great friend and mentor, Frankie Kay (a/k/a Frank Kuebelbech) in the '70s, and he remains an admired honky-tonk and boogie-woogie piano player.
Harry extends his gratitude to Raymond Earhart, who was a great Jazz musician in Kansas City for over 40 years, starting in the 1940s. He was Harry's teen-years piano teacher, from whom Harry learned harmony and technique. Ray introduced Harry to Jazz and inspired him to channel his passion for music into a life-long vocation.
Bassist Gerald Spaits has been a vital part of the Kansas City Jazz scene since the early 1980s. He has led and performed in numerous groups in the Kansas City area, including the Gerald Spaits Quartet, Westport Art Ensemble, Kansas City Bass Quartet, Russ Long Trio, Joe Cartwright Trio, Kim Park, Tommy Ruskin, Gary Sivils, Lynn Zimmer, Russ Long Tribute Band, and Blackhouse Collective.
Gerald has also performed and toured with international artists such as Karrin Allyson, Marilyn Maye, Kevin Mahogany, Gary Foster, Woody Herman Orchestra, Herb Ellis, Jay McShann, Claude "Fiddler" Williams, Rob McConnell, Harold Ashby, Benny Waters, Oliver Jones, Bernadette Peters, Mickey Rooney, Martin Short, Debbie Boone, and Michael Feinstein. His festival performances include the World's Fair in Seville, Spain, the Montreux Jazz Festival, San Jose Jazz Festival, Kansas City International Jazz Festival, Kansas City Blues and Jazz Festival, Hot Springs Jazz Festival, and Topeka Jazz Festival. Gerald also in an instructor and teacher, providing private lessons, teaching at workshops, schools and universities, including UMKC.
His recording work includes: Jay McShann - What a Wonderful World; Karrin Allyson - I Didn't Know About You and Azure-Te; Eldar Djangirov – Eldar and Handprints; Kevin Mahogany - Warming Up Kansas City; Gary Foster - Kansas City Connections; Paul Hofmann - Things Are Looking Up; Michael Parks - Coolin' Soup; Russ Long Trio - Never Let Me Go and Time To Go; Marilyn Maye - Maye Sings Ray; Lisa Henry - Jam Session; Gerald Spaits - Three Sides and Westport Art Ensemble; and Myra Taylor - My Night to Dream.
Gerald earned an Associate of Arts at Johnson County Community College in 1979 and attended Wichita State University from 1979-80. His teachers included John Elliott, David Neubert, Bruce Bransby, Stuart Arfman, and Misha Kruts.
Rick Bruner is a drummer, guitarist, and songwriter living and performing in eastern Kansas for the past 25 years. His influences are as wide and varied as his travels through the hills and plains of middle America. He learned his first guitar chords from his grandfather, a county engineer who lived his life around the dusty red dirt roads and fishing holes of southwest Kansas. Rick carried those folk roots into high school playing guitar & drums, and signing in various bands, while absorbing the pop music of the 60's and 70's. He discovered jazz in college about the same time he fell under the spell of songwriters like Joni Mitchell and Tom Waits.
He has been performing with area jazz musicians since the early 1990's. Rick has had the pleasure of sharing with stage with Claude "Fiddler" Williams, Cecil Payne, Marcus Belgrave, Eric Alexander, Henry Franklin, and Rufus Harley. He has opened shows for Peter Case, Bill Morrissey, Peter Keane, Don Conoscenti, Kenny White, Erika Luckett, and Edie Carey. Rick also performs with area blues and reggae bands, and as a singer/songwriter/guitarist.
Rick began directing artistic energies into songwriting in the latter 1990's, and in 2001 he won the Heartland Folk Festival songwriting competition. He has released one recording of his original songs entitled "Eight Hundred Miles."
Stan Kessler is a Trumpet/Flugelhorn player, band leader, clinician, and educator in the Kansas City area. He also does extensive writing and arranging for small groups. Stan also plays drums and hand percussion. He is currently leading The Sons of Brasil, The Stan Kessler Quartet/Trio/Duo, Stan Kessler's TV(5) , HoraceScope(3) and The Uncertainty Principle(2) and Parallax (1). He maintains adjunct positions at The University of Missouri at Kansas City and Missouri Western State College in jazz trumpet, theory and improvisation, and music business classes.
From 1968 to 1970, he was principal trumpet in the K.C. Youth Symphony. In 1970, Stan was awarded first chair all-state trumpet in Kansas. He attended Kansas University and Wichita State University from 1970 to 1972.
For the last 33 years, Stan has been a member of every kind of group you could imagine. He has led such bands as Stan Kessler and the Flat Five, Eightball, and Baby Leroy. His expertise includes jazz, R&B, funk, and all latin genres, especially brazilian and afro-cuban.
In 1980, Stan was assistant director of the jazz ensemble and combo instructor at UMKC. He was voted best trumpet player and leader of the best jazz band (SOBs) in KC by the Pitch readers' poll. He has appeared in concert with Clark Terry, Paquito D'Rivera, Gary Foster, Karrin Allyson, Steve Cardenas, Kevin Mahogany, Bobby Watson, John Clayton, Kim Park, and Joe Cartwright.
Lydia Miller makes her debut as a guest vocalist on the newly released jazz and rhythm & blues CD, Just for a Thrill. She brings delicate treatment and mature phrasing to classics from the American Songbook. Although she had just turned nineteen when the album was recorded, Lydia was hardly a stranger to jazz. Having grown up in a household filled with music, she not only continuously listened to music of many genres, Lydia has lived music; she started taking piano lessons at an early age, played percussion in school bands, sang in school choirs, and sang and played piano with her father, Harry Miller, just for fun and at holiday gatherings. Lydia finds special inspiration for her vocal expression from the great ladies of the jazz era, including Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee.
Lydia is pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre at Stevens College. Her stage experience includes theatrical roles in Boston Marriage, You Can't Take It With You, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and West Side Story. Lydia looks forward to a successful stage career following her graduation from Stephens.