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Musicians converge on Southwest Florida to perform at a “Celebration of Love and Life” concert in honor of the late Southwest Florida jazz trumpeter Dan Miller

Ken Frankling, courtesy of Judi Woods
(From left) Dan Miller with long-time significant other Judi Woods and friends at New Orleans' Preservation Hall in August 2022

Last year’s tragic loss of incomparable trumpet player Dan Miller has left a huge void in the jazz world. His storied performing career included performing and recording with some giants in the industry including his friend Harry Connick Jr., Wynton Marsalis, Maynard Ferguson, Tom Jones Branford Marsalis, and Jimmy Heath among many others.

Locally, Miller delighted audiences at venues throughout Southwest Florida, perhaps most notably, his Thursday night standing gigs at the Barrel Room at Twisted Vine Bistro in downtown Fort Myers with music collaborators and friends like saxophonist Lew Del Gatto.

Miller was also a passionate educator, having taught improv classes in the jazz studio at the University of Central Florida’s School of Performing Arts. He founded and directed the Naples Philharmonic Youth Jazz Orchestra and he mentored a number of budding young jazz musicians with private lessons.

Last August, Dan Miller died suddenly of a heart attack. He was just in his early 50s. Now, musicians, loved ones, and friends are converging on Southwest Florida for a tribute concert being called a “Celebration of Love and Life.” The event will include some three dozen musicians and friends performing and sharing their remembrances. It takes place Sunday, Feb. 12 at 2 p.m. at North Naples Church, 6000 Goodlette-Frank Road North, Naples. The concert is free and open to the public.

We catch up with Dan Miller’s longtime significant other Judi Woods to share some of her remembrances of Miller, to preview the upcoming tribute concert, and learn about efforts to continue his legacy through the Dan Miller Jazz Foundation.

We’ll also listen back to music and conversation with Miller on a 2019 episode of Gulf Coast Life Arts Edition, when he performed live in studio.

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