Austin360 On The Record: John Mills Times Ten


John Mills Times Ten, “Flying Blind” (Fable). Of all the Austin jazz acts whose downtown home base is the Elephant Room, this one is probably the biggest. It’s called John Mills Times Ten because the longtime local saxophonist’s backing crew is 10 players strong. Everything about “Flying Blind,” a follow-up to the 2010 debut “Caffeine Dreams,” is big, from the fullness of the arrangements to the 75-minute run-time of its dozen tracks. Mills has a considerable resume, with impressive credits in jazz (Steve Swallow, Carla Bley) R&B (Aretha Franklin, Bonnie Raitt), country (Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett) and beyond. 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. In the liner notes, Mills writes: “We are reaching for music that is simultaneously physical, cerebral and soulful, and my big influences, who cross every stylistic boundary, have always proved that to be not just possible, but irresistible.” That’s as good a summary of “Flying Blind” as any. Mills’ mates are Rich Haering, Eric Johnson and Adrian Ruiz, trumpet; Jake Lampe and Joey Colarusso, saxophone; Michael Mordecai, trombone; Hank Hehmsoth, piano; Russell Scanlon, guitar; Kriss Afflerbaugh, bass; and Rob Kazenel, drums. Justin Vasquez (sax) and Jon Blondell (trombone) also appear as guests. “Flying Blind” was the final album project of studio engineer Spencer Starnes, who died last summer; the record is dedicated to him. Release show Jan. 10 at Elephant Room. Here’s video of the band in action at that venue a couple of years ago:


  • JAN. 12: Lolita Lynne, “Fool’s Moon,” release show Jan. 12 at Barracuda.
  • JAN. 12: Wide Open, “Long Road Home.”
  • JAN. 18: Summer Fires, “Without a Word” EP, release show Jan. 18 at Stubb’s indoor.
  • JAN. 19: Johnny Dango, “Dear Everybody, I Love You,” release show Jan. 20 at Blackheart.
  • JAN. 26: Lew Card, “Takeouts Vol. 1.”
  • FEB. 1: Good Field, “Surface Tension.”
  • FEB. 2: Mike & the Moonpies, “Steak Night at the Prairie Rose,” playing Jan. 27 at Sam’s Town Point.
  • FEB. 2: Various artists, “The Stacks: Songs from the Oasis.”
  • FEB. 9: Wild Child, “Expectations” (Dualtone), release show Feb. 10 at Empire.
  • FEB. 9: Wade Bowen, “Solid Ground.”
  • FEB. 9: Jerry David DeCicca, “Time the Teacher” (Impossible Ark), release show Feb. 10 at Beerland.
  • FEBRUARY: Sharks in the Deep End, EP.

Author: Peter Blackstock

Music writer for the Austin American-Statesman and Twitter: @Blackstock360

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