Aziza Miller knows New York. It’s her home. The pulse and the energy of the city manifests in her fusion of funk, jazz, soul, Latin, and spoken word. New York also knows Aziza. Some of the city’s most prestigious venues have welcomed her to standing room-only crowds. Whether headlining at Joe’s Pub, The Blue Note, Iridium Jazz Club, The Metropolitan Room, Brooklyn Academy of Music’s BAM Café, or any number of other celebrated haunts, Aziza spellbinds audiences with her original compositions as well as her peerless musicianship that has sparked her acclaimed writing collaborations with Natalie Cole (“La Costa”), Ahmad Jamal (“Whisperings,” among others), Ray Bryant (“One Fine Day”), Tommy Turrentine (“Big Brown Eyes”), and UK-based DJ Ben Westbeech (“Get Closer”). And it’s not only world-class musicians who thrill to Aziza’s soulful yet sophisticated melodies, it’s a loyal audience that spans the globe and crosses every generation.
Music fans have long anticipated Aziza’s latest collection of songs, This Journey of Love (2016). Hailed as a “filler-free winner” (The Urban Music Scene), “a beautiful hybrid of Aziza’s jazz leanings and soul phrasings” (Dusty Groove), and “a solid production of top-tier quality jazz/R&B with phat keys skills, fine melodies and hooks, and smart vocals” (The Smooth Jazz Ride), This Journey of Love features Aziza’s tributes to Horace Silver (“A Song for Silver”), Natalie Cole (“A Song for My Friend”), and four additional compositions that spotlight Aziza’s talents as both composer and musical artisan.
This Journey of Love follows a trio of releases that explored Aziza’s unique blend of jazz, soul, and poetry, Jazzsoetry Vol. 1 (2007), Jazzsoetry Vol. 2 (2010), and What’s On Your Mind? (2014). However, many listeners first became acquainted with Aziza when she blazed a trail in the 1970s as one of the first female Musical Directors for a major recording artist. Between 1975-1980, she presided as Musical Director, conductor, and pianist for Natalie Cole. During that time, Aziza composed the music for “La Costa,” which featured lyrics by Natalie Cole and brought Aziza to the attention of Ahmad Jamal, who not only covered “La Costa” but invited Aziza to write lyrics to four of his original recorded compositions. Formerly known as “Linda Williams,” Aziza was offered a contract with Arista Records where she released her first solo album, City Living (1979). Her debut featured the Latin-infused grooves of “Elevate Our Minds,” a song that was subsequently sampled by renowned U.K. DJ Ben Westbeech on “Get Closer” (2006).
Beyond her studio projects, Aziza’s many talents have flourished everywhere from the Broadway stage to New York’s Department of Education. She brought her expertise to the Professional Performing Arts School where Alicia Keys was among her many talented students. In 1997, she received the Presidential Scholar Distinguished Teacher Award from President Bill Clinton. She played in the orchestra for Oprah Winfrey’s presentation of The Color Purple and was Musical Director for Rain Pryor’s Fried Chicken & Latkes. Throughout her various endeavors, she authored a book called The Divanary: A Dictionary for Divas, which was inspired by her interactive musical piece “Divas Don’t Apologize.”
In every note she writes, plays, and sings, it’s very clear: Aziza has many more trails to blaze. —Christian John Wikane