Born: June 30 Primary Instrument: Producer
In an industry where copycatting and contrivance is too often encouraged and true creativity and innovation is needed but not always rewarded, Jason Miles has stood his ground as a true musical visionary. From his groundbreaking synth programming on Miles Davis' 80s masterpieces Tutu, Music From Siesta and Amandla to his current partnership with DJ Logic in the pioneering global fusion group Global Noize, the Grammy Award winning New York native-dubbed by one insightful veteran journalist as the Quincy Jones of Contemporary Jazz-has consistently brought the highest level of artistry to his multi-faceted recordings (as both producer and artist) and live performances.
Launching his career in the late 70s and early 80s jamming on the NYC club scene and working behind the scenes with jazz greats like Michael Brecker, Marcus Miller, Bob Mintzer and Gerry Niewood, 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 Miller include not only the Miles Davis projects but also classic recordings by David Sanborn (A Change of Heart, Upfront) and Luther Vandross (The Power of Love, Any Love, Never Let Me Go). Miles earned a Latin Grammy nomination for producing Gato Barbieri's The Shadow of the Cat (also Billboard Latin Jazz Album of the Year), won an award in the 90s for producing a children's video for actress Phylicia Rashad and won a Grammy in 2001 for his production of She Walks This Earth, which also earned Sting a Best Male Pop Vocal nod; that track was part of the all-star Miles production Love Affair: The Music of Ivan Lins. 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, Phil Perry, Cassandra Reid, Ruben Blades, Freddy Cole, Eric Marienthal, George Benson, Joe Sample, Herb Alpert.
While Miles began recording as a leader in the mid-90s with World Tour and Mr. X (projects which featured Brecker, Grover Washington, Jr., Herbie Mann and Steve Ferrone), he found a powerful niche in contemporary jazz in the late 90s and 2000s producing and arranging a series of critically acclaimed, commercially successful all-star recordings paying homage to influential jazz and R&B artists as well as Brazilian composer Ivan Lins. These include Celebrating the Music of Weather Report, What's Going On? The Songs of Marvin Gaye and two recordings celebrating the legacy of Washington, both called To Grover With Love, in 2002 and 2008. Between these projects and numerous productions for outside artists, Miles engaged in further labors of love called Maximum Grooves: Coast To Coast (which earned him a fourth Grammy nomination) and Miles To Miles: In The Spirit of Miles Davis, a high concept set of originals inspired by the legendary trumpeter that cemented Jason Miles' status as a true jazz innovator in his own right.
In addition to conceiving and arranging the two Grover tribute recordings, Miles-who did the synth programming on Washington's 1987 album Strawberry Moon--has paid tribute to the late sax great in an even more intimate way: by producing and executive producing Grover Live, a 2010 issue of a live concert Washington performed at the Paramount Center for the Arts in Peekskill, New York in 1997. 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.
Miles has also done this on stage in recent years by producing and performing at all-star shows at the Berks Jazz Fest in Reading, Pennsylvania. His Quincy like ability to ensemble with the best musicians around have made these extravaganzas an integral part of the Berks experience; his shows have included live performances of Maximum Groove and Miles to Miles as well as tribute events celebrating Ivan Lins, Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross and Grover. In 2008, Shanachie Records released a live CD of Miles' 2007 Berks show Soul Summit, which revisited classic music via modern sensibilities and sharp new arrangements with the help of legendary sidemen Bob Babbitt, Reggie Young and Steve Ferrone, in addition to contemporary artists Richard Elliot, Maysa, Susan Tedeschi, Mike Mattison and Karl Denson.
In 2008, Global Noize, Miles' new 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 2000s equivalent to the way Weather Report and Return to Forever drove the spirit of jazz fusion in the 70s, 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.
Looking back on his fascinating, far reaching career, Miles says, In 1981, I was playing one night with Bob Mintzer and Gerry Niewood as one of two keyboardists in The Rising Sun Band at The Lone Star Café in New York. A patron came up to me and told me he liked my playing and said he thought I was on the cutting edge with my synthesizer. That kind of moment gave me the confidence to later help shape the sounds that Marcus was creating in his work with Miles, Sanborn and Luther. Those defining experiences have inspired me to maintain the highest level of quality in my work and only surround myself with the highest level of musicianship and artistry throughout my professional life.
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.
Awards:2000 Grammy: Best Pop Vocal Performance (Producer) 2000 Grammy Nomination: Best Pop Instrumental performance. -Grover Washington, Jr. 2003 Latin Grammy Nomination: Best Latin Jazz Album - Gato Barbieri's The Shadow Of The Cat 2003 Billboard Latin Jazz Album of the Year - Gato Barbieri's The Shadow Of The Cat 2004 Grammy Nomination: Best Pop Instrumental Performance Chasing Shadows
Willing to teach:
Advanced students only.
I do clinics that teach everything from how to be a great producer to performance to the art of understanding the music business.have taught at Berklee, Manhattan School of Music, Ithaca College. 35 years of experience.