Blue Note To Honor Ron Miles’ Legacy With Old Main Chapel

Blue Note Records will honor the legacy of the brilliant and beloved trumpeter, composer, bandleader, and educator Ron Miles with the May 10 release of Old Main Chapel, a sublime 2011 live recording featuring Miles’ trio with guitarist Bill Frisell and drummer Brian Blade. You can check out “Mr. Kevin” from the album below.

When Miles passed away at 58 years old in March 2022 from a rare blood disorder he had just made his debut as a leader at the Village Vanguard in September 2021—the first performer to play in front of an audience at the legendary New York City jazz club following the COVID lockdown—and was planning to record the follow-up to his acclaimed 2020 Blue Note debut Rainbow Sign.

In a New York Times review of the Village Vanguard performance Giovanni Russonello wrote “Miles has spent most of his life in Denver and has only recently begun to garner the heavy national attention he was due,” adding that he “has a dusty and unvarnished sound on cornet that hints at his Rocky Mountain roots, and unlike your typical high-brass improviser, he hardly ever resorts to flash or big pronouncements.”

Set for release on May 10, Old Main Chapel was recorded live at the venue of the same name in Boulder, Colorado on September 21, 2011, the night before the trio would go into the studio to record their debut album Quiver. The seven-track set presents six of Miles’ indelible original compositions including longer versions of five pieces that would appear on Quiver, as well as the stunning “I Will Be Free” and beguiling “New Medium.”

Old Main Chapel was produced for release by Miles’ longtime manager and producer Hans Wendl and the liner notes include heartfelt remembrances by Frisell, Blade, pianist and frequent collaborator Jason Moran, Blue Note President Don Was, and Ron’s daughter Justice Miles.

“On September 21, 2011, the conditions were perfect in Boulder, Colorado,” observes Moran. “Ron Miles gathered his trio of Bill Frisell and Brian Blade, formed just the previous year, to premiere his freshly penned compositions. This is precisely how Ron orchestrated a moment. The band stepped onstage to explore the songs. Each piece crawls through the band and out into the audience. Not a soul in the room knew how the music would start or finish. Within this unpredictable air, Ron’s trust saturated everyone as he guided the proud angels through his intricately melodic world.”

“I think back and smile and bubble with joy at how rare a being Ron was in this world,” muses Blade. “Ron was a deep cut, yet so accessible and every note counted and communicated grace and mercy and fire and passion and all the things we loved about the man himself.”

“It was always a pleasure to speak with him because he overflowed with a positive energy that stuck with you long after the conversation ended,” recalls Was. “The warmth and grace we hear in his writing and playing is an extension of that incredible spirit. Anyone can pick up an instrument and play some notes but the ability to make transformative music is rare. Ron possessed that gift in abundance. He passed thru this world for just a short time but left behind a recorded treasure of eternal beauty and revelation.”

Ron Miles was born on May 9, 1963, in Indianapolis, Indiana, and moved with his family to Denver when he was 11 years old. Soon after he began playing trumpet and studied both classical and jazz. He went on to study music at the University of Denver, University of Colorado Boulder, and the Manhattan School of Music. In 1987, Ron released Distance for Safety, the first of a dozen albums he would make over the next 35 years including such critically acclaimed works as Heaven (2002), Quiver (2012), and I Am A Man (2017). Ron received a Grammy nomination for his performance on Joshua Redman’s 2018 album Still Dreaming. Miles also led a distinguished and lengthy career in music education as a Professor of Music at the Metropolitan State University of Denver where he had taught since the late 1990s.

Miles’ final album was his Blue Note Records debut, Rainbow Sign, which was released in 2020 and featured an extraordinary quintet with Frisell, Moran, Blade, and bassist Thomas Morgan. Written in tribute to Ron’s father Fay Dooney Miles, who had passed away in 2018, DownBeat called it “a deeply touching album” and “by far Miles’ most impressive work as a bandleader.”

Pre-order Old Main Chapel.

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