Design By Humans
Published On: Wed, Oct 15th, 2014

Ron Miles: Circuit Rider

ron milesRon Miles
Circuit Rider
(Yellowbird Records)

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Ron Miles is a songwriter and cornet player based in Denver, Colorado. He’s recorded for Prolific, Capri and Gramavision (to name a few), is considered one of the finest horn improvisers and composers of his generation and has performed in the ensembles of Bill Frisell, Mercer Ellington, Joe Henry and Madeleine Peyroux (again to name but a few). His latest release and second album, Circuit Rider, marks the second time in a row he has used the band of longtime partner/master guitarist Bill Frisell and drummer Brian Blade.

The eight-song album begins with the tentative blaring of Miles’ horn on opener “Comma,” a song that slightly un-buds into a flanky and fun medium mover with Bill Frisell’s flickering chord play and Blade’s light playing. I kept hoping to latch onto something here though. Of course the jumpy Mingus-penned “Jive Five Floor Four” smokes, Miles running around the trills and Blade really putting in his time on this soft yet kinetic take on a classic.

Once again, Blade caught me but good on “The Flesh Is Weak,” a song with a true band feel to it as Miles lets his horn take a strong melody. The title track here I feel belongs to Frisell as much as Miles, the former having too much fun running around those frets for his own good.

The last tune, Jimmy Giuffre’s “Two Kinds Of Blues,” is my favorite. Again, it sounds like a full-band effort (this trio is at its best roiling around one another) and you can’t really light your ear on any one of the players as they are all pretty much at the top of their game flying off but still keeping things together somehow.


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Ron Miles: Circuit Rider