John Mills

"Compositionally, this is sophisticated stuff, but then again, most anyone who enjoys instrumental music that puts the horns up front will probably dig the ensemble’s lively and wide-open sound."  

- Peter Blackstock, Austin360

John Mills Times Ten is an Austin original 10-piece jazz ensemble showcasing the compositions & arrangements of tenor saxophonist, John Mills. Their Sophomore album, Flying Blind, is currently available at Waterloo Records and everywhere on-line.  Their residency at the famed Elephant Room, first Wednesday of every month, is now in its 8th year.

Flying Blind, Times Ten’s sophomore release, suggests venturing into risky territory, equipped only with one’s sense of adventure. It was recorded at Bee Creek Studios in Spicewood, TX. It was co-produced and engineered by studio owner and Mills’ long-time (40 years) musical production partner, Spencer Starnes. “Spencer got beautiful instrument sounds and was a superb musician who understood every detail of the music I imagined,” Mills recalls.  Spencer passed away shortly after Flying Blind was completed, and the album is dedicated to him.

Times Ten’s first CD, Caffeine Dreams (also on Fable Records), introduced this powerhouse ten piece instrumental ensemble to local and national Mills fans in 2010. Widening the banks of jazz, Times Ten is groove-based and accessible while being harmonically sophisticated and rhythmically intricate. It is flat-out exciting, even to audiences who don’t necessarily follow jazz. “His music is like one of those pieces of art that you stare at…then all of a sudden you ‘see’ it. He’s that type of musical genius,” says Michael Mordecai, Times Ten member, about John.  The group’s members are Jake Lampe (alto & soprano sax), Joey Colarusso (baritone Sax), Eric Johnson (trumpet 1), Rich Haering and Adrian Ruiz (trumpet 2), Michael Mordecai (trombone), Russell Scanlon (guitar), Hank Hehmsoth (piano), Kris Afflerbaugh (bass) and Rob Kazenel (drums).

Dr. John Mills graduated from the University of Texas and played in the UT Jazz Ensemble with the crew of Austin jazz musicians (Mitch Watkins, Robert “Beto” Skiles, Spencer Starnes, “Mambo” John Treanor, Paul Ostermayer, Bill Ginn, Ron Brown, Tomas Ramirez and Michael Mordecai) who have played an instrumental role in the development of the Austin Jazz scene performing with both local and national acts.  

A native of Houston, John comes from a musical family and was privileged to study with the late great Tony Campise. Today he is a tenured faculty member at the University of Texas, Butler School of Music in Austin, Texas. A saxophonist, flutist, composer and arranger, he has performed with internationally prominent jazz artists Steve Swallow, Carla Bley, Butch Miles, Kenny Wheeler and Maria Schneider during his career. Outside of the jazz realm he has worked on stage or in the recording studio with Bonnie Raitt, Dr. John, Aretha Franklin, David Byrne, Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead), Lyle Lovett, and Willie Nelson. His orchestral arrangements for major artists such as these have been performed by symphonies across the U.S. and abroad.

John invites listeners to “Let the surprises of the layered ensemble lines wash over you. There is no need to understand the complex elements — just ride the musical wave.” Rhythmic drive, melodic surprise and harmonic imagination are the band’s signature, with the leader’s innovative compositions putting a contemporary, groove-based spin on big band tradition, interweaving dynamic ensemble passages with virtuosic improvisation.

John has played on hundreds of recordings and played in many of bands, but Times Ten is his opportunity to express his own musical point of view

Times Ten’s residency at The Elephant Room the first Wednesday of every month is now in its eighth year. Listeners can also hear them perform at music festivals.


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