Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ron Miles - Quiver Review

When you say the three names of Ron Miles, Bill Frisell, and
Brian Blade the ears of jazz fans are going to perk up. Bill Frisell
has been the biggest jazz guitarist in the genre for the last 10 and arguable longer years. In terms of tone and style he has been monumentally influential. Brian Blade has made a name by drumming with his band the Brian Blade Fellowship, he has also played with Daniel Lanois, and has recently been earning critical acclaim with the Mama Rosa singer/songwriter project. All bring a serious reputation, but that alone is not always enough. They also have the key ingredient of
chemistry and a unified conception of how this music should sound and feel. Ron Miles has worked in Frisell's groups and the two also made a
duet record called Heaven in 2002. Their relationship has deepened, and
they have added Blade to the mixture. He brings a wide range of feels and
a synergy to the openness that the group is establishing. The trio lit up Dazzle last September, and some of these album tracks are taken from live recordings of those sets while others are studio recordings.There is a wide variety of tunes on the new record including swing/bop, blues, folk, and country. Along with a great version of "The Days of Wine and Roses" there is a couple of other tunes that come from
the older canon of Jazz tunes like "There Ain't No Sweet Man That's Worth the Salt of My Tears." and "Doin' the Voom Voom". What makes the record a success is how flexible each of the players are. This is evident from the first track "Bruise" in which the rhythmic head is repeated by Frisell on guitar while Miles solos and repeats the
bass parts under Frisell. Really exercising his ability to change roles
and timbre in the piece.
A direct compare and contrast can be made on "Just Married" to figure out what kind of dynamic Brian Blade adds on the drums, since it
first appeared on the duet album Heaven. "Queen B" will make you
recall Frisell's quartet album, not that it belongs on that record, but
tonally something about the opening strains are familiar. When everyone
has ears this big and facility to pull off whatever they might want to do
we are the beneficiaries. Some of the best moments are the individual spaces that each player gets a chance to explore. The album does not have a rushed feel to it, the musician's take time developing each song and pick no fruit before it's time, as is especially evident on the elegantly paced "Guest of Honor". From the post bop of "Rudy-Go-Round" to the lovely solo trumpet opening strains of "Mr. Kevin" this record has a little bit of everything. Chip Stern has done a great job with the liner notes. He talks about the album as a whole, and really dives into the specifics of some of the songs and the concepts behind the playing. It is a brave group of men that draw back the curtain and say "look, this is by design." In an age when a drum machine can set up something that can pass for music to cut back the veil and make bare every choice is brave. To have such great success is ever rarer. In all the players you can hear the tradition, individual style, and respect for melody and the moment. We are reminded by this record how lucky we are to hold among us Ron Miles in the Mile High Jazz Community.

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