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James Miley

Chair; Professor of Music; Director of Jazz Studies; Major Advisor

Headshot of James Miley

Contact Information

Salem Campus

RMC 111
900 State Street
Salem  Oregon  97301
503-370-6260 (Fax)


James Miley, recipient of the IAJE/Gil Evans Fellowship in Jazz Composition, is currently Assistant Professor of Music at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, where he directs the Willamette Jazz Collective and teaches improvisation, composition, jazz history, music technology, and music theory. A versatile composer and pianist comfortable in both the jazz and classical idioms, he has written music for a variety of chamber and choral ensembles in addition to his work for jazz orchestra.

James has appeared as a guest composer/performer at numerous festivals and universities over the past decade, including the University of Michigan, University of Miami, University of Idaho, University of Texas, California State University Northridge, Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory, the Nevada and New Mexico All State Honor Jazz Bands, the Jazzmandu and Sundance Festivals in Nepal, and the Monterey, UNC/Greeley, and Reno Jazz Festivals. Recent commissions include new works for the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, Lawrence University, the University of Texas at Arlington, the California All-State Honor Jazz Band, and the Monterey Jazz Next Generation Festival. His catalog of compositions and arrangements for large jazz ensemble is published by Walrus Music and UNC Jazz Press, and is available through Sierra Music’s popular Radiohead Jazz Project series. He appears as keyboardist and principal composer with the jazz collective, Bug, whose recordings are available on Origin Records. He has also recorded and/or performed in recent years with Ron Miles, Tim Ries, the Kandinsky Trio, and composer Dan Cavanagh.

Dr. Miley holds degrees from Occidental College (B.A., 1989), the University of Arizona (M.Mus., 1994) and the University of Oregon (D.M.A., 1999), in addition to graduate-level coursework at the California Institute of the Arts and the University of California, Santa Barbara. His principal teachers in composition have included Richard Grayson, Jeff Stolet, Daniel Asia, Robert Kyr and Harold Owen, along with Steve Owen, Gary Versace, David Roitstein and Larry Koonse in Jazz Studies. In addition to directing the Willamette Jazz Collective and coordinating the small jazz ensemble program, Dr. Miley's teaching and research interests include composition, improvisation, aesthetics, popular music history and creative applications of technology in music.

Most recent recording: Hashem Assadullahi Sextet with Ron Miles, Pieces (OA2 Records, 2013)

Released CDs

Miley, James, et al. The Optimist by Bug. 2015. Audio Recording.

Musical Compositions

Miley, James. Broken/Unbroken. Commissioned by Douglas Detrick and the Portland Composers Jazz Ensemble, Portland, Oregon. 2015.

Miley, James. Do the Math. Commissioned by Leon Slater and the Hellgate High School Jazz Band, Missoula, Montana. 2016.

Miley, James. Lake and Maple. Commissioned by Curtis Gaesser and the Folsom High School Jazz Band A, Folsom, California. 2016.

Miley, James. By George. Commissioned by Patty Darling for the 2017 Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend, Lawrence University, Appleton, Wisconsin. 2017.

Miley, James. You Should Have Known. Commissioned by Rich MacDonald for the JazzMN Big Band, Minneapolis, Minnesota. 2017.


Miley, James; Nord, Mike; Biesack, Ryan. Willamette Underground Trio. Performances at Peoples Fringe Festival, Hong Kong, November 2015.

Miley, James; Nord, Mike; Biesack, Ryan. Willamette Underground Trio. Performances at Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory, March 2016.

Miley, James. The Dude Abides, What You Will, Three Fingered Jack, Everything In Its Right Place, Black Hole Sun, Speak, and Take the Wheel for large jazz ensemble, CSU Northridge Jazz Bands A and B, under the direction of Matt Harris and Gary Pratt. December, 2016.

Miley, James. Performances at jazz festivals and workshops in Nevada, Oregon, and California. 2016-2017.

Miley, James. Lake and Maple. Commissioned and premiered by the Folsom High School Jazz Band A under the direction of Curtis Gaesser. Folsom, California. March 2017.

Miley, James, The Willamette Jazz Collective. Various performances at Willamette University. 2016-2017. Conductor.

Willamette University

Music Department

Willamette University
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.