Harry Miller’s Isipingo

Harry Miller (April 25, 1941 — Dec. 16, 1983) was a South African double-bassist who was active on the international jazz and rock scenes for more than two decades. He first emerged as a member of Cape Town rockers The Vikings, which issued two albums on RCA Victor between 1959 and 1961. During the mid-1960s, he relocated to the U.K., where he apprenticed with jazz-band leaders John Surman and Mike Westbrook, whose Concert Band featured Miller on the albums Celebration (1967), Release (1968), Marching Song (1969), and Love Songs (1970).

In 1971, Miller was among numerous musicians to contribute to Septober Energy, the experimental big band/jazz-rock double-album by Keith Tippett’s Centipede. That same year, Miller joined Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath, which issued two studio albums and two concert recordings by decade’s end. Miller also provided basswork to King Crimson on the tracks “Formentera Lady” and “Islands” from the band’s 1971 album Islands.

Further ’70s side-work included time in the free-form ensemble Ovary Lodge and backing work for Bob Downes, Elton Dean, Julie Tippetts, Mike Cooper, Mike Osbourne, and Brotherhood-bandmate Dudu Pukwana, among others. The mid-’70s also bore collaborative fruits with Swiss/Austrian free-form players Irène Schweizer and Radu Malfatti.

In 1974, Miller released his first album as a leader, Children at Play, on the Ogun label. Around this same time he formed the jazz-rock outfit Isipingo, which initially included Nick Evans (trombone), Mike Osborne (alto saxophone), Keith Tippett (piano), and Cape Town/Brotherhood-kin Mongezi Feza (trumpet) and Louis Moholo (drums). The band recorded 75 minutes of music, circa 1975, that sat in the vaults until Cuneiform issued the set in 2006 with the title Which Way Now. In 1977, Isipingo released the concert recording Family Affair with Malcolm Griffiths in lieu of Evans and Mark Charig replacing the now-deceased Feza.

Harry Miller died from injuries sustained in a road accident in the Netherlands in December 1983.


  • Children at Play (1974)
  • Ramifications (1975 • Irène Schweizer, Rüdiger Carl, Paul Lovens, Radu Malfatti & Harry Miller)
  • Bracknell Breakdown (1977 • Radu Malfatti & Harry Miller)
  • Family Affair (live, 1977 • Harry Miller’s Isipingo)
  • In Conference (1978)
  • The Nearer the Bone, the Sweeter the Meat (1979 • Brötzmann / Miller / Moholo)
  • Down South (1983)
  • Which Way Now (2006, recorded 1975 • Harry Miller’s Isipingo)
  • Full Steam Ahead (2009, archival • Harry Miller’s Isipingo)

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