Drummer Sammy Miller makes no bones about it. He wants to bring jazz to the people and he’s found true believes in the young members of his six-piece Congregation. Evangelists of swing, they’ve earned an avid New York City following by drawing on a century of American songs, inviting listeners in with familiar melodies and rollicking rhythms.
The band has been so busy that they’ve hardly had time to record in the last two years, instead releasing a nine-track on-line “mix tape” that includes enthralling renditions of from folk tunes (“Lil’ Liza Jane”), spirituals (“Just A Closer Walk with Thee”), Jelly Roll Morton (“Black Bottom Stomp”) and Scott Joplin (“Maple Leaf Rag”). Miller started assembling the Congregation after earning a Master’s degree from Juilliard. The group honed an ecstatic approach to music making playing late night sessions at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola and Sundays at The Woods, a Brooklyn nightspot where they’re the only jazz act on the schedule. Converting new audiences and captivating longtime jazz fans, Miller and the Congregation make 21stcentury music by embracing some 150 years of American music – something they call “joyful jazz”.
Each one-hour matinee features live performance, audience participation, Q&A, and amazing music.