Faculty & Staff

Steve Million

Department Chair: Jazz

Jazz Piano, Honors Jazz Combo


Studied at studied North Texas State University and University of Missouri at Kansas City

Tenure at Merit:

16 years, 7 months




For seven-year-old Steve Million, seeing the Count Basie big band play in his hometown of Boonville, Missouri, was a “DNA-altering experience.” Count took a liking to the young boy and, on a break, introduced him to the band and then let him sit at the piano while he performed. A future jazz musician was born.

Some years later, and with much hard work, Mr. Million is a professional jazz pianist, improviser and composer. Although largely self-taught beginning with blues and boogie-woogie piano in high school, he studied at the University of Missouri–Kansas City and with John Elliot, who taught all working jazz musicians in Kansas City.

A seasoned faculty member at Merit, Mr. Million chairs the Jazz Department and teaches jazz piano classes and private lessons. He also instructs the Honors Jazz Combo, Merit’s top Conservatory jazz ensemble. He previously taught at Benedictine University. Mr. Million uses weekly exercises and repertoire to gradually allow young pianists to become comfortable with the many aspects of jazz performance.

Mr. Million has released numerous CDs, including the 2011 Mood Point, with the BakerzMillion sextet that he co-leads. He plays regularly in the Chicago area, including at Jazz Fest and at Chicago’s Catch 35 Chicago restaurant several nights a week, where he performs with fellow Merit instructor, bassist Eric Hochberg, and others.

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“It’s great to see the progress of Merit’s young students from when they first walk through those doors until they are ready for college.”