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Ormond Beach Observer Monday, Dec. 17, 2012 6 years ago

It's showtime: Big Band America


Horns will blow through the Ormond Beach Performing Arts Center Saturday, as Jim Miller's Big Band America performs.


Jim Miller is calm and confident at the helm of his Big Band America.

Gearing up for practice at the Ormond Beach Senior Center, he arranges sheet music as band members slide oil onto their instruments and squeak and squak out sound checks, searching for just the right key.

Then practice begins. Trumpets cry. Baritones wail.  Miller taps his foot and swings his finger. And, like magic, this small-town community center starts sounding like a concert hall.

“He’s a leader," baritone and sax player Roy Alexander said about Miller. "And it was his livelihood, playing trombone.”

But Miller's no exception. Almost his entire band is made up of lifetime musicians, many of whom have played in bands like this for years.

Jim Miller’s Big Band America will perform a holiday concert at the Ormond Beach Performing Arts Center 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22. The band will play arrangements from the 1930s, '40s and '50s, as well as numerous original compositions.

“Because of the fact that the band has had the same basic core for the last couple of years, the guys have really had an opportunity to blend with each other," Roland Saint Gelais, trumpet player for the band, said. "It’s been a pleasure to sit next to some of these guys."

As for Miller, he joined the Les Elgart Orchestra before later being asked to come on board with Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey’s band. Six United States presidents have heard him play, in addition to Johnny Carson and visitors to Carnegie Hall.

During his 24 years with the military, Miller played trombone for the Navy, before buying the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra in 1990.

Big Band America began performing in 2010 and, according to Saint Gelais, the band would never have been able achieve to achieve its signature sound without Miller's guidance.

“Jim is a very talented arranger, so we’ve got some great music to play," he said. “When everyone gets along, you’ve got a band on your hands."

As the group assembles, sitting upright in their chairs and ready to practice, Alexander glances back up at miller Miller then whispers.

“This is the real powerhouse right here,” he says.

Tickets for the concert are$15. Call 676-3375.

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