The dean of Canadian jazz journalism, Mark Miller, is about to release his latest book, Way Down that Lonesome Road. (The release party will be in Toronto on November 2.) It's about legendary singer/guitarist Lonnie Johnson's early and essential contribution to the histories of both blues and jazz, and about Johnson's final years in Toronto.
The publisher's blurb says: "Part biographical study, part social history, the book follows Johnson from the generous welcome that he received from Toronto's critics on his arrival and the successes and failures that followed, to the automobile accident that left him hospitalized for a year and the final, fleeting appearances of a comeback cut short by his death. Johnson's years in Toronto were the happiest of times and the hardest, a Dickensian sort of paradox, albeit in a tale of just one city."
Mark Miller' writings on Canadian jazz musicians, including A Certain Respect for Tradition and Boogie, and Pete & the Senator: Canadian Musicians in Jazz : The Eighties have been inspirational for our own efforts here at OttawaJazzScene.ca. Our article "Roddy Ellias: "I'm going to continue playing music" followed on from an interview / article Miller wrote 26 years earlier. Miller is a former Ottawa resident, and participated as a "Jazz Matters" panelist at the 2009 Ottawa Jazz Festival.
Miller served as the jazz critic for The Globe and Mail from 1978 to 2005 and, in addition to Way Down That Lonesome Road, has written nine other books since 1982. These include
- Jazz in Canada:Fourteen Lives (1982),
- Cool Blues: Charlie Parker in Canada, 1953 (1989),
- Such Melodious Racket: The Lost History of Jazz in Canada, 1914-1949 (1997),
- The Miller Companion to Jazz in Canada and Canadians in Jazz (2001),
- Some Hustling This!: Taking Jazz to the World, 1914-1929 (2005),
- High Hat, Trumpet and Rhythm: The Life and Music of Valaida Snow (2007) and
- Herbie Nichols: A Jazzist’s Life (2009).
He has also contributed to Coda Magazine, Down Beat, the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada, Saturday Night and several other popular and scholarly publications. His photographs of jazz musicians have been published widely.
Mark Miller's books are available at Chapters and Amazon.
– Brett Delmage