Jason Miles,
Miles to Miles
(Narada, 2005)

The heart of Jason Miles' Miles to Miles is jazz, and while there are elements to the pieces that are more associated with other genres of music, they become part of the jazz on this CD. There are a large number of musicians who lend their talents to this end, and many of them show up only on one track.

Here is a partial list of the musicians who make the music work. Barry Danielian (trumpet), Jason Miles (keyboards, drum and percussion programming, guitar samples, synth bass, EFX, Rhodes, Wurlitzer piano, Hammond B3, organ and percussion loops), DJ Logic (turntables, EFX), Gary "Gee Whiz" Greenburg (drum programming), Gene Lake (drums), Tom Harrell (trumpet), Dean Brown (guitar), Karsh Kale (tables), Ada Rovatti (soprano and tenor sax, vocals), Carter Beauford (drums), Romero Lubambo (acoustic and electric guitar, vocals), James Genus (bass, acoustic bass), Cyro Baptista (percussion, pushador) and Pamela Driggs (vocals).

Absent on the album is the second Miles of the title: Miles Davis, whose work inspired Jason Miles when they worked together in the late 1980s. This work is not a tribute to Davis, but might be considered a homage, or perhaps a further exploration of previous themes.

The byplay between the horns and the funky grooves of "Ferrari" cruise you along the way, with the turntables revving the engines as you go. "Butter Pecan" continues the dialogue and brings it into focus apart from the rest. There is a stealthy edge to "Guerilla Jazz" as the melody stalks along the edges, stark and sparse. From that you go to the open cockiness of "King of the Bling," with the turntables underscoring the mood.

The odd bit of scat slips out in "Bikini" as the two vocalists use very different styles adding highlights to the music. The early bit of vocals helps create the warmth that runs through "Love Code," while the gentle caresses of the trumpet wrap love into the melody. You get a brief guitar solo in "Flamenco Sketches Intro," which leads right into "Flamenco Sketches," and the guitar becomes one thread, part of a theme to be built around.

The everyday meetings on the street take music in "Voices on the Corner" and the laidback music ambles along the way. The music drifts out in "Street Vibe," continuing parts of the previous piece and extending them. "Suba" is a simple groove and just keeps on going, smooth and fluid until the end. The undulating vocals of "New Worlds" transform the piece, and enrich the music.

To say Miles to Miles is good jazz seems to be missing part of the music; it is good music that has jazz at its heart. Jason Miles has created something wonderful here, and it is a good listening experience.

by Paul de Bruijn
21 January 2006

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