[JPL] A Trumpeter Doesn’t Need Solos to Go With the Mood ...NYTimes

r durfee rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com
Wed Sep 6 20:27:35 EDT 2006

August 31, 2006
Music Review
A Trumpeter Doesn’t Need Solos to Go With the Mood 
The trumpeter Ron Miles is no stranger to certain New
York jazz audiences. He has worked extensively in
ensembles led by the guitarist Bill Frisell, one of
his closest peers, and the violinist Jenny Scheinman,
with whom he will appear next Monday at Joe’s Pub. But
for some reason — probably in part because Mr. Miles
is such a modest performer — he has yet to carve out a
space as a solo artist. It doesn’t help that he lives
in Denver.

On Tuesday night at the Stone, Mr. Miles led a
Denver-centered group with the somewhat unfortunate
name of Blossom. (Not enough time has passed since the
identically titled NBC sitcom.) The band has a new
album that will be issued Oct. 10 by Sterling Circle
Records of Boulder, Colo. Over the course of a
seven-song set it created something beautifully and
almost astonishingly cohesive, without the help or
distraction of a single outstanding solo. 

That’s not to say that Mr. Miles, playing cornet
throughout, gave himself no space for improvisation.
On a country-tinged song called “Since Forever” he
based one of his solo choruses on the permutation of a
rhythmic conceit, in the manner of Thelonious Monk. On
a more dissonant piece, “Gethsemane,” he delved into
atonality, bringing a burr into his tone and a flutter
to his touch. 

Mr. Miles, who wrote most of the material for the
group, appeared flatly uninterested in solo heroics;
he was more intent on submerging himself in a sound.
So at his behest the group’s guitarist, Roger Green,
and its pedal steel player, Glenn Taylor, produced a
wash of layered chords and fuzzy overtones that set a
mood and a hue. The songs felt like internal
monologues in open spaces: careful and contemplative
but free. 

This all could have been too ethereal if the rhythm
section had kept a lesser focus. But the pianist Erik
Deutsch and the bassist Todd Sickafoose laid a strong
yet malleable foundation, resisting any kind of
stasis. And the drummer, Rudy Royston, was attentive
as well as ferocious; he complemented Mr. Miles
perfectly, often anticipating his moves.

In the first section of a tune called “Small Town
Hero” the band annotated a loose-limbed funk vamp with
a series of stop-time figures, over which Mr. Miles
played dispassionate long tones. Then a churning
groove arose. In the midst of the storm Mr. Miles
began to play a pattern on a tiny keyboard, so softly
it was almost inaudible. 

The band shifted toward his dynamic level; Mr. Deutsch
picked up a melodica to blow a contrapuntal line. This
new mode — suggestive of a soundtrack for a quirky
independent film — went on for several intoxicating
minutes before slowing to a stop, like a spent windup
toy. The audience seemed startled into applause. 

Roy Durfee
P.O. Box 40219
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87196-0219
rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com

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