Best of 2017 #13: Ron Miles – “I Am A Man” (Yellowbird Records)


A melody from Ron Miles is moonlight distilled down to sonic form.  There are times when he exhales a melody and he’s the only object in the sky.  And then there are those times when the gravitational force of his presence pulls an ensemble around him like a sea of stars.  The cornetist’s 2017 release I Am A Man puts those talents to excellent use, and the hall-of-fame cast of guitarist Bill Frisell, pianist Jason Moran and drummer Brian Blade happily fall into his orbit.  The blues are an ever-present force of change on the recording, regardless whether the piece is an old-school ballad or a new-school burner.  Miles has a lyrical touch to where he gets a sound to just hang in air, allowing patience and pauses heavy with emotion to get them to radiate with everything they’ve got before putting the next notes in play.  Whether on cornet or trumpet, the sense is that here is a musician who has spent a lifetime immersing himself in his instrument and the creativity inside to make it manifest, and that impression bleeds into every note.  A wonderful album from an amazing musician.

Music from Denver, CO.

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