From his groundbreaking synth programming on Miles Davis’ 80s masterpieces “Tutu“, “Music From Siesta” and “Amandla” to his current projects “Global Noize” and “Kind of New”, the Grammy Award winning New York native has consistently brought the highest level of artistry to his multi-faceted recordings (as both producer and artist) and live performances. Jason Miles has not only helped shape the landscape of contemporary jazz, but also brought his rich sonic textures as a keyboardist, arranger and producer to artists in a multitude of genres, from R&B/pop to Latin Jazz, Brazilian music and even children’s music and country (producing Suzy Boguss’ “Sweet Danger“).
His many years of collaboration with Marcus Miller include not only the Miles Davis projects but also classic recordings by David Sanborn (“A Change of Heart”, “Close Up”, “Upfront”) and Luther Vandross (“The Power of Love”, “Any Love”, “Give Me the Reason”). Committed to pushing the envelope of sonic possibilities and bringing out the best in the artists and musicians he vibes with, Miles has worked over the years with a proverbial who’s who of contemporary music: Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Michael Brecker, The Crusaders, Ruben Blades, Freddy Cole, George Benson, Joe Sample, Herb Alpert, Vanessa Williams, Grover Washington Jr. and many more.
Jason Miles has made two very successful tribute albums dedicated to the late sax legend Grover Washington Jr. (for whom did the synth programming on his 1987 album “Strawberry Moon“). “To Grover With Love” (2000 – Artistry Music) sold in excess of 125,000 copies and his follow up “2 Grover With Love” (2008 – E1 Entertainment) made many Top 10 lists in various publications. In 2010 Jason, along with Grover’s wife Christine, produced and executive produced “Grover Live – Grover Washington Jr Live at the Paramount Center For The Arts”, a live show recorded in 1997 in Peekskill, New York, that was an immediate hit showcasing Grover and his band at the height of his brilliant creative powers. It was Washington’s first release in over ten years and his first live recording in 33 years. Miles’ tireless work in bringing this recording to the public – thereby introducing the power of Washington’s music to a new generation of contemporary jazz listeners – is reflective of his commitment to keeping the great music of the past alive while keeping his eye on and exploring exciting future possibilities. Jason Miles also performs a show titled “Honoring a Legend – The Music of Grover Washington Jr.”. Some of the songs featured in the show are “Winelight”, “Just the Two of Us”, “Inner City Blues”, “Let it Flow”, “Mr Magic”, “In the Name of Love”, “Sassy Stew”, “Take Me There” and “Moonstreams”.
In 2008, “Global Noize“, Miles’ group formed around his partnership with DJ Logic, released its self-titled debut and performed at Berks and later at Jazz Fest in New Orleans; the live show included musicians from across the spectrum, including Christian Scott, John Popper, Bernie Worrell, Me’Shell Ndgeocello, Billy Martin, Suphala, Cyro Baptista and James Genus. Hailed by All Music Guide as “the 2000’s equivalent to the way “Weather Report” and “Return to Forever” drove the spirit of jazz fusion in the 70’s”, Global Noize – driven in part by Miles’ expansive, socially conscious vision – creates a boundary breaking, freewheeling swirl of jazz, funk, electronic, world fusion and blues that’s all at once grounded, trippy and sensual, and – with the ethereal vocals of Falu – also transcendent and spiritual. His latest album with “Global Noize” was called “Sly Reimagined” which mixed the legendary music of “Sly and the Family Stone” with 21st century grooves, It featured Roberta Flack, Nona Hendryx and original Family Stone drummer Greg Errico. It was named “Best contemporary jazz album of 2014” by Jazziz magazine.
“Kind of New” is Miles’ most recent CD and project with trumpet great Ingrid Jensen. Inspired by Miles Davis’ “Cellar Door” sessions, it offers a journey into the Future of Jazz by creating a new vibe that mixes electric/acoustic grooves with virtuistic performances and infectious melodies. On the album Ingrid and Jason are joined by Jay Rodriguez, James Genus, Jeff Coffin, Adam Dorn, Amanda Ruzza, Steve Wolf, Jon Wikan, Nir Felder, Cyro Baptista, Mike Clark and Jerry Brooks. It has been getting accolades from all over the world and the live performance has been leaving audiences wanting more.
Jason continues to produce artists for the future and bringing his experience to another generation of artists and musicians. He recently taught a semester at the prestigious The New School in NYC and brought the awareness of Electric Miles Davis to students who were amazed by the depth of his knowledge and work.
Looking back on his fascinating, far-reaching career, Miles says, “I’ve learned so much from the great players I have been fortunate enough to work with and they have made me a much better musician and person”, he adds. “I’m always thinking about the listeners and the audience and how important it is to bring them something special that can make a difference in their lives. The industry has presented its challenges along the way, but there has been so much beauty among the disappointment. All I ever wanted was a chance to play music and make a living at it, and I’m grateful to have had these rich experiences, surrounded by so many talented and loving people. I wouldn’t trade these moments for anything.”
This last decade alone, Jason has performed at many great festivals and stages around the world: Cape Town Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, Jazz Aspen, Umbria Jazz, North Sea Jazz, Jacksonville Jazz Fest, Jazz Fest Nola, Rio Das Ostras in Brazil, Tokyo Blue Note, Blue Note NYC and the Highline Ballroom to name a few.
Jason Miles has raised the level of excellence for the musicians who have had the good fortune of working with him, myself included. The work he did with my friends, Miles Davis and Marcus Miller have helped to define the modern face of jazz music.
Ingrid plays trumpet and flugelhorn with all the brilliance and fire of a true virtuoso, following the spirit of the muse as she creates. Warm, sensitive, exciting and totally honest.
Jason works the Fender Rhodes and organ for maximum texture behind a piercing Jensen while a funky electric bass and power drums are joined by a range of horns and percussion support. A new chapter in fusion’s evolution .
As its title implies, “Kind of New” is a tribute to Miles Davis, but one that tries a different approach from the norm. For the most part it features Mr. Miles, a keyboardist, and Ms. Jensen, a trumpeter, playing new music that evokes Davis’s style in the early 1980s, when Mr. Miles was doing his synthesizer programming. The project’s personnel, which includes the veteran jazz-funk drummer Mike Clark, is solid.
Jensen’s horn runs the gamut as Miles’ electric backdrops and the tidy band gamely shift gears and switch colors like dressers: she jaunts a self-conscious, careful runway strut on “Faction of Cool”; nails carefully scripted hits on “Super City”; and gets comfy in the blues-drenched vernacular of “Shirley” (for singer Horn).
The album title is a play on Miles Davis‘ immortal Kind of Blue, but it’s not hubris for this team to reference the master; Jason Miles was Davis’ keyboard player for several years. This delightful disc features Ingrid Jensen on trumpet, and while the tracks occasionally evoke memories of Davis’ Jack Johnson period, the groove and melodies are rooted in a more accessible foundation.
Miles Davis fusing elements of rock and funk into his music was nothing short of revolutionary and people still get into heated debates over the quality of the music that Davis released during this period. But just as people overlook Maggot Brain when discussing P-Funk, this free flowing brand of jazz/funk/rock fusion sometimes gets excised from the contemporary jazz canon. So the conscious effort that Jason Miles and Ingrid Jensen make to rehabilitate it on Kind of New is definitely welcome. Solidly Recommended .
Miles and Jensen hit it far out of the park
Using Miles Davis’ expansive output as their core inspiration, these contemporary jazz luminaries have delivered an impressive release that seamlessly bridges the past, present and future of their genre. It’s an aural time machine that explores how Miles might have harnessed his muse if he was still around today.
Jason Miles on Miles: befitting the title be prepared for a Kind of New re-imagining of Miles Davis with Ingrid Jensen’s probing, facile trumpet out front.
The Jason Miles and Ingrid Jensen collaboration on the “Kind of New” project is a winner. Ingrid’s brilliant trumpet brings their compelling compositions to life. I look forward to presenting Ingrid and Jason and “Kind of New” at the 25th annual Berks Jazz Fest in April 2015.
Want to hear a record that represents a 21st century sound?” – “Kind of New” has a genuine modern groove and yet plenty of compositional substance. Ingrid Jensen is the perfect partner for Jason Miles.
To Grover With Love,” Jason Miles’ tribute to the late saxophonist Grover Washington Jr., brought the full house to its feet over and over in a concert presented by the Berks Arts Council as part of the VF Outlet Berks Jazz Fest on Sunday night in the Sovereign Performing Arts Centre.
Miles’ set’s most striking characteristics were its inspired musicianship and confident improvisational approach. This rock-solid foundation provided the band freedom to flex their collective musical muscle and soar. One came away breathless, preoccupied by a single thought: Grover lives.
The Jason Miles / Grover tribute was a major hit at jazz on the vine @ the osthoff resort. We hit sellout again this year, and it was in no small part to the package and show put together by Jason.
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