Primary Instrument: Vocalist
Solitaire Miles... the name has a ring to it, echoing with loneliness and distance... it sounds too good to be true, but look on her birth certificate and you'll see it's the real thing: Solitaire Miles. Listen to her sing and you'll hear the real thing, too. Considering the ancestry of hipness she needed to get a name like that, you won't be surprised to learn that Solitaire comes from a swinging bloodline. Her grandmother Sybil Der Manuel was a big band vocalist in the early 1940's. When Sol, aged three, heard her first Billie Holiday side, she thought she was hearing Grandma. When Sybil played the piano and sang, young Sol would sit underneath next to the foot pedals for hours, drinking in the sounds of the past that would one day become her future.
Solitaire originally planned to be an opera singer, but while attending DePaul University in Chicago, she met the legendary swing violinist Johnny Frigo who encouraged her to sing jazz. When I first head Johnny play I was crazy for him, and followed him around to every gig he had, until he got sick of seeing me in the audience! But he also taught me a lot of tunes and helped me arrange them. During this time she completed her first recording with Frigo and his long time accompanist Joe Vito, The Psychic Cabaret. Johhny and Joe were like Grandfather's to me, and they helped me get a start in Chicago.
Working with elder players became a habit. They seemed to appreciate my old fashioned style of phrasing. After college she also began working and recording with Sax Maestro Von Freeman, and pianist Willie Pickens. I was lucky to have their guidance, because they were playing jazz and swing with the greats during the hey day. While performing on the Chicago scene, they all meticulously coached her. During later years spent living in New York, she had many opportunities to sit in with the great trumpeter Doc Cheatham, learning lots of great swing tunes along the way. From these venerable bandleaders, she learned more about old- school phrasing; They wrung every little bit of opera or pop singing from my voice until it was authentic, unadulterated jazz and swing, and that's what I'm presenting today.
For Solitaire, a jazz or swing number isn't just source material to be pillaged for a contemporary pop recording. I think a singer has to embrace the vocal style and phrasing from the era the tunes were written, she says. So she's absorbed the influences of giants like Holiday, Sullivan, Ella Fitzgerald, Helen Ward, and Mildred Bailey. I try to present tunes in the most authentic way possible, so that the listener is taken on a journey back in time to when the music was first performed, but I also try to confer originality and freshness to the lyrics and performance. My songs aren't just reproductions, but a unique illumination of melody and language. This approach has led her to become not only an interpreter, but an historian of her genre. One of my favorite things to do is to find forgotten songs from the 1930's and 40's and reincarnate them because this great music is a treasured part of our American musical heritage.
Source: M.V. Moorhead
Listening to singer Solitaire Miles is like stepping into a time machine and going back to a bygone era of great female jazz singers. With a clear, clean voice and keen sense of phrasing, Miles belongs to another period in time --Brad Walseth, JazzChicago.net
There are a lot of female singers singing the old songs these days, but I can't think of another singer who sings the kind of songs Solitaire Miles has chosen for her new CD, 'Born to Be Blue'. Trifles like Make with the Kisses and Me and the Moon are treated like masterpieces by Gershwin or Kern. And that's Miles' secret weapon. She never condescends to the material, but instead invests it with utter commitment and lots of love. Taste, too. --John Chacona, Erie Daily Times
Solitaire Miles captivates an audience with mesmeric tone, playful, conversational phrasing, and a sinuous sense of swing. Miles has a voice that grabs you, and demands to be listened to. Her natural, unaffected delivery never draws attention to itself, allowing the craft of the song writers to shine through. --Tamara Dailey, Orange County Sentinel
Billie Holiday with sunshine and air. --Harry Jacobson, Chautuaqua Sympony bassist
Her singing is enhanced by an uncanny stage presence. She could easily fit into a group portrait with Peggy Lee, Maxine Sullivan, or Billie Holiday. She shows great vocal diversity, strength and agility as she explores the timeless textures of songs like 'Autumn Leaves', 'I Must Have That Man', and 'Lush Life' --Dave Rhoerbach, Los Angeles Victory Gazette
We can learn a lot from the way Miles informs each song with impeccable intonation, flexible phrasing, and historical insight. She can take an obscure Billie Holiday song and recreate it in her own style without sacrificing the mood of it's time. --Marion Herschberger, Brooklyn Free Press
Her voice is best described as human and earthy, and she presents jazz standards and forgotten favorites in a sassy style of jazz/swing hybrid that has been compared to Mildred Bailey, Billy Holiday and Helen Humes. --Emily Santolla, The Chautauquan Daily
Solitaire Miles has a voice that makes you think she’s opened a hole in the fabric of time and stepped right out of 1939. --J M Reid, The Kent Observer