A highly regarded trumpeter, composer, and educator, Ron Miles is a progressive artist with a bent toward harmonically nuanced, genre-bending jazz. A star of the Denver, Colorado jazz scene and a longtime professor at the Metropolitan State University of Denver, Miles is a lauded performer who has worked as both a leader and a collaborator with such similarly inclined luminaries as Bill Frisell and Fred Hess. Miles' sound has a warm, rounded signature tone. As a soloist he prefers emotionally wrought economical phrases rather than flurries of intensely played notes. As a leader, his second album, 1996's My Cruel Heart, showcased the elements of a compositional style developed with intuitive, artful ensemble playing. In 2003, Miles released Heaven, a duo outing with Frisell that began reflecting his gifts as a soloist. On 2006's Stone/Blossom, he led a group that included drummer Rudy Royston; it was the first of his outings to showcase his mature compositional style. Its two discs were comprised of equal parts jazz, '70s soft rock, and Americana. 2012's Quiver, with Frisell and Brian Blade, combined Americana, modal music, and hip-hop rhythms while exploring the polyphony of early New Orleans jazz. Miles reached a new and younger audience with 2017's globally acclaimed I Am a Man for Yellowbird; his quintet featured Frisell and Blade with bassist Thomas Morgan and pianist Jason Moran. Born in 1964 in Indianapolis, Indiana, Miles moved to Denver with his family at age 11. Around the same time, he started playing trumpet, taking classical and jazz lessons throughout high school. Also during his formative years, he played in school band ensembles as well as a local all-city combo. After high school, he earned his undergraduate degree from Denver University, where he first met saxophonist Fred Hess, often traveling to Boulder to play with him. Toward the end of his undergraduate studies, the trumpeter won a classical competition at the International Brass Clinic that was held at Indiana University in Bloomington. The accolade helped garner him a scholarship to attend New York's Manhattan School of Music, where he eventually earned his master's degree. In 1987, he made his recorded debut with Distance for Safety, followed two years later by Witness. Also around this time, he toured as a member of the Mercer Ellington Orchestra, and traveled to Italy in the summer of 1992 with the musical Sophisticated Ladies. He also recorded with Hess, and played frequently with guitarist Bill Frisell. In 1996 he released his third studio album, My Cruel Heart, which found him exploring his increasingly distinctive brand of modern creative jazz with rock influences via a handful of guitarists including Todd Ayers, Farrell Lowe, Arnie Swenson, and Eddie Turner. That same year he appeared on the Bill Frisell album Quartet, and returned in 1997 with the grunge- and post-rock-influenced Woman's Day, which found him working again with Frisell and his rhythm section, and featured bassist Artie Moore and drummer Rudy Royston. In the late '90s, Miles joined the faculty of Denver's Metropolitan State College, where he has taught for decades. He then rounded out the '90s by collaborating with drummer Ginger Baker for the Cream member's jazz-leaning album Coward of the County. Several intimate solo efforts followed, including 2000's Ron Miles Trio, 2002's Heaven, and 2003's Laughing Barrel. There were also additional well-regarded sessions with Frisell and Hess, as well as Colin Stranahan, DJ Logic, Jenny Scheinman, Otis Taylor, and more. In 2007 he appeared on the Frisell project Floratone, and followed a year later with his own trio album, 3ology with Ron Miles. Along with his continued work as an educator, he remains a highly prolific artist, issuing dates such as 2012's Quiver with Frisell and drummer Brian Blade. Also in 2012, he appeared on Hess' big-band date Speak, and reunited with Floratone for a second outing. He returned to his solo work for 2014's Circuit Rider with Frisell and Blade. From there, he joined pianist Myra Melford for 2015's Snowy Egret, appeared on Ben Goldberg's Orphic Machine that same year, and contributed to drummer Matt Wilson's 2017 Carl Sandburg homage Honey and Salt. In 2017, Miles also delivered his own I Am a Man, with pianist Jason Moran, Frisell, Blade, and bassist Thomas Morgan. The album proved Miles' global breakthrough -- after 20 years as a respected soloist and bandleader. Its title reflected the 50th anniversary of the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike that started after two workers were killed by a malfunctioning garbage truck. The rank and file poured into the streets 11 days later, carrying signs that read "I Am a Man" and connected their stand -- embraced by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. -- to the nation's Civil Rights struggle. The album peaked at 25 on the jazz album charts and registered in the Top Five at streaming; its tour registered acclaim everywhere the band took it. Miles signed to Blue Note Records afterward. In October of 2020 he issued Rainbow Sign, leading the same quintet as on the previous outing. It included nine originals including the Ethio-pop-flavored single "Queen of the South." He wrote the majority of the set in 2018 while caring for his dying father. The title was inspired by the Carter Family song "God Gave Noah the Rainbow Sign." The recording's compositions reflected his recent experience as a loving familial care giver, James Baldwin's enduring Civil Rights' polemic The Fire Next Time, and the trumpeter's committed Christian spirituality.
© Matt Collar & Thom Jurek /TiVo
© Matt Collar & Thom Jurek /TiVo
9 albums sorted by Most acclaimed
Narrow my search
Jazz - Released November 10, 2017 | Yellowbird Records
Hi-Res Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz
Beware the heavyweight casting! For this I’m A Man, Ron Miles has summoned at his sides drummer Brian Blade, guitarist Bill Frisell, pianist Jason Moran and bass player Thomas Morgan. True all-stars who never rest on their laurels and who clearly aren't there just for the money. With this project as powerful as a raised fist, the trumpet player from Indianapolis has transformed his trio with Frisell and Blade (who penned Quiver in 2012 and Circuit Rider in 2014) into a quintet. A gang committed to the commitment! The one that has always inhabited the jazz and its illustrious representatives, and that Ron Miles resuscitates in an America whose racial injustices are still newsworthy. Hence this completely explicit title, I’m A Man, a reference to the inscription that brandished black municipal employees in Memphis in 1968, after the death of two of their colleagues in murky circumstances. It’s the voice of Civil Rights History that resonates here once again. A voice tinted with blues obviously, but most of all a plural voice, as Ron Miles wanted. He shared with his accomplices not only their parts, but the complete partition of his compositions. It’s a collective approach, sometimes libertarian, like the jazz from the end of the 60s knew how to generate, and which sounds here more modern than ever. © MZ/Qobuz
Jazz - Released October 9, 2020 | Blue Note Records
Rainbow Sign is trumpeter/composer Ron Miles' debut recording for Blue Note. He re-enlists the same intuitive quintet who played on 2017's I Am a Man. It features guitarist Bill Frisell, pianist Jason Moran, bassist Thomas Morgan, and drummer Brian Blade. Written during the summer of 2018 while caring for his dying father, these nine compositions were intended to provide empathy, peace, love, and reassurance to his transitioning parent and his family. Clocking in at over 71 minutes, Rainbow Sign bridges polytonal modal music, blues, gospel, post-bop, and pop. The long opener "Like Those Who Dream" commences with sparse, seemingly unrelated piano and bass notes, droning trumpet tones, and guitar harmonics, with Blade's syncopated snare offering skeletal rhythmic miniatures. A pulse emerges from the front line at two minutes in, and Miles moves into deep blues. He and Frisell twin through gorgeously scripted lyric lines as the rhythm section floats atop and around his modal blues. The trumpeter's solo sings with pain and resonance as Moran's expansive comping is colored by Frisell's intelligent chord voicings before embarking on his own break. Single "Queen of the South" was inspired by Ethiopian pop, and is so songlike it's hummable. The lyric and textural interaction between Miles, Morgan, and Frisell entwines then separates for Moran who grounds the harmony in a majestic cadence as Blade plays around the beat before stretching it. The drummer employs muted tom-toms to introduce the haunting, minor-key ballad "Average." Its impressionist melodic center assumes a dominant role even as it shifts to allow for tonal variances from Frisell and Moran. "The Rumor" is infused with a drifting Americana melody from the guitarist. In a stately 4/4, Moran embellishes and extrapolates the harmony while Blade's dialogues with him intimately before Miles opens the circle thematically with muted blues lines and phrases before delivering an artfully rendered solo. "Custodian of the New" is a post-bop number with intersecting rhythms. Moran, with Miles and Frisell in tow, interrogate a layered, labyrinthine lyric as Morgan and Blade drive it with almost rockist force. "A Kind Word" closes with dramatic harmonic ideas amid multivalent rhythmic interplay. Its six-note boogaloo riff offers Moran room for chordal extrapolation while Frisell and Miles travel the lyric's outer reaches with gorgeous sonic effects as they inquire about its nuances and sense impressions. Rainbow Sign is a deeply personal album for Miles. It's a work rife with dignity and emotional and spiritual power, performed with grace and taste by this gifted quintet. It builds on I Am a Man with song-like compositions, and more intimate and intuitive dialogue, resulting in a very different, yet equally compelling listening experience. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
News feed Prev. Next
yesterday Qobuz | Big Sean Big Albumyesterday Qobuz | Public Enemy no1!Tue Qobuz | Thylacine - Classical EDM
Mon Qobuz | The Icelandic King of Pop is Back!Fri Qobuz | IDLES : F The System!
Tue Qobuz | Eddie Van Halen, the Death of a Guitar HeroMon Qobuz | Katy Perry - If it ain't broke don't fix it
Fri Qobuz | Jessy Lanza - Retro-FuturismThu Qobuz | END - Splinters from an Ever-Changing FaceWed Qobuz | The Apartments - Monochrome Melancholy