Joyful Jazz at the Oxford Community Center
Sammy Miller & The Congregation to perform over Memorial Day Weekend
By Becca Newell
The widely-popular Jazz on the Chesapeake concert series returns to Oxford Community Center on Saturday, May 25th, with Sammy Miller & The Congregation—a performance that promises to be lively, energetic, and oh-so much fun!
Rooted in swing, the group’s portfolio spans the American songbook with toe-tapping rhythms and an all-around feel-good vibe. It’s self-described “joyful jazz.”
“We take joy seriously,” says bandleader Miller, with a laugh. “There needs to be more of that in the world.”
Sammy Miller & The Congregation takes the OCC stage at 8 p.m. Tickets are $50. It’s sure to be a sell-out performance, so be sure to snag your seat before it’s too late!
A Grammy-award nominated musician, Miller—who’s also the band’s drummer—is as passionate about mastering the artform as he is entertaining his audiences. It stems, he thinks, from playing music with his family during his childhood. When he was five years old, he and his four siblings started a family band.
“I think I picked the drums. I certainly didn’t resist,” he adds, with a laugh.
Back then, music was a communal endeavor that not only encouraged camaraderie between its members, but provided equal enjoyment for both the young artists and their spectators. It’s evident this experience translated into how he approaches music as an adult. According to Miller, it should be used to build and inspire community, not as a tool for exclusivity.
“That’s one of the deepest things about the tradition [of American art]—it’s bridging the gap between different people,” he says.
He also just wants people to have fun.
“I’m very into standup comedy,” he says. “My goal as an adult is to figure out a way to put these things together.”
Miller formed The Congregation shortly after receiving his Master’s at The Julliard School, with the intent of providing a live experience—an avenue in which he felt he could entertain, enrich, and uplift audiences across the country.
“It’s that ephemeral thing that’s only going to happen one time,” he says, referring to the fleeting beauty of a live show. “I want to give people an impact.”
He recalls his experience as a child attending a performance by Ray Charles, describing how the show—albeit a short, but sweet five-song performance—had a profound impact on him. He believes that those experiences lead to personal connections and internal impressions that go beyond what a video or even, to some extent, a recorded song could illicit.
That said, the group is extremely excited about their upcoming studio album, which Miller says will be out before the end of the year. And while he wasn’t able to share too many details, he’s thrilled with the final production, which was recorded at United Recording Studios in Los Angeles.
“It’s the studio that Frank Sinatra was basically responsible for building,” he says. “We got to be in this room and the spirits were with us that day. It’s the first time we’ve actually captured the elements of what we do on tape.”
For now though, why not check out the real thing? Whether you’re a jazz aficionado or not, one thing is certain when it comes to Sammy Miller & The Congregation: You’re certain to leave their performance feeling much better than when you got there. It’s jazz music that feels as good as it sounds.
“I’ve been to enough bad shows, I would never put someone through that,” Miller says, with a laugh. “It’s going to be a great time!”
Catch Sammy Miller & The Congregation on Saturday, May 25th at the Oxford Community Center. The performance is presented by Chesapeake Music’s Jazz on the Chesapeake in partnership with Oxford Community Center. Tickets are $50. Show at 8 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit Jazzonthechesapeake.com or call 410-819-0380.