The brothers Miller grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They came of age during the Summer of Love. By 1969 they were engaged in freeform rock improvisations and started their first all-original rock band Sproton Layer. During this time, they would see the MC5 at a free concert in the afternoon, then head over to the University of Michigan New Music department to hear Stockhausen at night.
In 1975 the three brothers attended a small Art School. The Fourth World Quartet, with school-mate Jack Waterstone rounding out the quartet, was born out of their mash-up of colliding interests in free improvisation, classical music and jazz. All members composed, ranging from fully scored pieces to graphic scores. Laurence arranged the Art Ensemble of Chicago's "Tnoona" for the group and Roger arranged the main theme from Igor Stravinsky's mini-opera "Renard the Fox". The boundaries were wide open.
In a few months the band put together this repertoire, a testament to focus and extreme creative activity. If they only played two shows and lasted only a very short time, the connections into the future were many. Included here are two songs by Roger that would later appear on the first Birdsongs of the Mesozoic record in 1983.
By 1977 punk rock had kicked in, and Laurence (guitar) and Benjamin (alto sax) went back to their rock roots and joined the Detroit punk band Destroy All Monsters which included Ron Ashton from the Stooges and Michael Davis from the MC5. In 1979, Roger co-formed Mission of Burma in Boston, which went on to be very influential on the indie rock movement.
This is never-before heard music from a pivotal time period.
"The resulting series of ... sessions, collected here for the first time, reveal how the amalgam of volatile styles the brothers ingested during their varous sonic encounters fused together and caught fire...Although The Fourth World Quartet was a short-lived project, this remarkable discovery reveals a group who were knocking over some serious creative barriers." – Edwin Pouncey / Jazzwise
released June 25, 2021
Benjamin R. Miller: electric guitar, alto saxophone, composition
Laurence B. Miller: bass clarinet, composition
Roger C. Miller: piano, percussion, composition
Jack Waterstone: alto saxophone, composition
Recorded March 1975 at Thomas Jefferson College, Allendale, Michigan. Recording engineer: Rick Scott on a Braun tape recorder.
Mastered by Ian Beabout, ShedSounds Studio.
Mary Halvorson is a genius composer and guitarist who has developed her own musical language, and with Code Girl she has incorporated poetry into that language. Incredible compositions and lyricism (each track is a different kind of poem). Halvorson's playing is as great as usual, and all the other members of the band sound great. Robert Wyatt's singing in particular works extremely well in the tracks he's featured. Highly, highly recommend. rat