Dr. John Mills is a saxophonist and composer / arranger based in Austin, Texas who works in a wide range of concert and recording projects within the jazz idiom and beyond. He has enjoyed the opportunity to perform with such internationally prominent jazz artists as Steve Swallow, Carla Bley, Kenny Wheeler, Maria Schneider and Diane Schuur during his career. John currently leads the high-energy, ten-piece jazz fusion ensemble John Mills TIMES TEN which exclusively features his compositions. He has released two CDs of that group on Fable Records, Caffeine Dreams and Flying Blind, as well as Invisible Designs – a collection of his original songs featuring jazz vocalist Carmen Bradford.
Outside of the jazz realm, Mills has worked on stage or in the recording studio with such R&B stars a Bonnie Raitt, Dr. John, Buddy Guy and Aretha Franklin, as well as pop artists Paul Simon, James Taylor, David Byrne, Los Lobos and Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead), and Texas icons including Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel, Lyle Lovett, Jimmie Vaughan and Willie Nelson.
Dr. Mills has composed numerous orchestral and classical chamber works including string quartets that have reached the finals in three of the last four International Golden Hornet competitions. His orchestral arrangements for popular artists including Asleep at the Wheel, David Byrne, Rosanne Cash, Arto Lindsay and Indigo Girls have been performed by symphonies across the U.S. and abroad.
During his nearly 50 years in the Austin music scene, John has recorded on over 200 albums and appeared on nine episodes of the Austin City Limits PBS TV series, writing the opening theme for some of the shows’ early seasons. He has been a central member of some of Austin’s most notable jazz groups during this period, including Starcrost, Beto y los Fairlanes, Dan Del Santo’s World Beat, Minor Miracle, Tina Marsh’s CO2, and Captain Kirk and the Devil Horns.
Mills has composed extensively for both professional and university jazz ensembles including a number of works published by Walrus Music. His Round and Round the Sun won the 2019 SONIC Award for Best Big Band Composition from the International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers (ISJAC) and he was awarded First Prize at the 2008 ArtEZ International Jazz Composition Contest in the Netherlands for If Memory Serves. In 2009, he collaborated with fellow UT Professor Jeff Hellmer to score the first full orchestration of Duke Ellington’s unfinished folk opera, Queenie Pie.
Dr. Mills has presented jazz master classes at institutions around the world, including Royal Danish Academy in Aarhus, Denmark; the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory in St. Petersburg, Russia; the University of Greifswald, Germany; Pro-Jazz Institute in Santiago, Chile; Instituto Guatamatelco (Guatemala); Conservatorio di Perugia, Italy and the Butler School of Music where he teaches jazz saxophone, composition, arranging and history.