Jazz's Next Great?

Pictured from left to right: Miro Sprague, Mike Cottone, Eric Miller, Dave Robaire, Jonathan Pinson, Diego Urbano and Joshua Johnson.
Pictured from left to right: Miro Sprague, Mike Cottone, Eric Miller, Dave Robaire, Jonathan Pinson, Diego Urbano and Joshua Johnson.
The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance opened its doors on the UCLA campus this past summer, with the first class of graduate students beginning instruction this past fall. Walt Whitman’s own Eric Miller, class of 2008, is one of those chosen to be among the very first graduate students of the institute.

The institute's Website lists Eric’s bio as follows: 

Eric Miller, trombone, was born in South Huntington, New York. He began studying trombone at age 9 and became first soloist for the Nassau-Suffolk Jazz Ensemble at age 14. Miller attended the New York State Summer School of the Arts Jazz Institute at Skidmore College and participated in Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead program. During his junior and senior years of high school, he was first trombone in the GRAMMY jazz ensemble, performing with McCoy Tyner, James Moody, and others. Miller received his bachelor’s degree in jazz studies from Manhattan School of Music. He has studied with Wycliffe Gordon and Luis Bonilla, and has performed with the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band.

Congratulations, Eric. You make Walt Whitman High School and South Huntington proud!

The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance is a tuition-free two-year program that accepts one ensemble of musicians for each class. All of the students receive full scholarships, as well as stipends to cover their monthly living expenses. The students study both individually and as a small group, receiving personal mentoring, ensemble coaching, and lectures on the jazz tradition. They are also encouraged to experiment in expanding jazz in new directions through their compositions and performances.

One of the institute's earliest goals was to create a unique college-level jazz program where the masters of jazz could pass on their expertise to the next generation of jazz musicians the way Thelonious Monk had done in his Manhattan apartment throughout the '50s and '60s. In September 1995, the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance was launched, and the first class of seven students began their intensive training with some of the world's greatest musicians.

The Institute of Jazz Performance students and instructors present a number of major concerts and community outreach programs throughout the United States and overseas. International highlights include performances at the celebration commemorating the 40th anniversary of the coronation of the King of Thailand, the 1998 Summit of the Americas in Chile before 34 heads of state, the United Nations "Day of Philosophy" event in Paris sponsored by UNESCO, and the Tokyo Jazz Festival. The students have also participated in tours of China, Egypt, Argentina, Peru, India, and Vietnam with Institute Chairman Herbie Hancock.