Luther Vandross' "Power of Love", Michael Jackson’s "HIStory" and the
classic Miles Davis album "Tutu" in common?
Jason Miles played and programmed
synthesizers on those CDs.
He has also released stellar albums such as
the Music of Weather Report", a tribute to the seminal progressive
jazz band of the ‘70s and early ‘80s, "A Love Affair: The Music of
Ivan Lins", a tribute to the Brazilian musician/composer of global
stature, Maximum Grooves' "Coast To Coast" and of course his
to Miles Davis "Miles to Miles". It's Jason Miles' genius to arrange
and integrate all styles of jazz like Latin jazz, general jazz,
contemporary jazz, jazz fusion, smooth jazz or bebop in a way that all
styles are accessible for a great audience.
His upcoming album "What's Going On? is again a tribute album
dedicated to the great singer Marvin Gaye. Jason Miles comments: "The
idea came to me on a beautiful early October evening at a restaurant
in Martha's Vineyard. They began to play Marvin Gaye songs and the
idea and thoughts of new arrangements engulfed me and would not let go.
I, like many people of my generation grew up on Marvin and Motown. I
believe it's time to revisit the music of this very complex and
have a special connection to Marvin Gayes' music with which I grew up
and which affected me. It's not unusual that I have reviewed some
cover versions of Marvin Gayes' famous hit
What's Going On? in the past. It's a joke of history that
Marvin Gayes album "What's Going on" (1971) should not been released
at first, because Berry Gordy, CEO of Motown, thought it wouldn't have
commercial potential. It's an epic song cycle on which Marvin took
total control and weaved his observations about inner city youth, the
ecology, and race relations. Mike Mattison fills Marvin's song with
new life. His elegant voice sounds familiar and intimate.
Sexual Healing was the song which
impressed me with its relaxing but still complex rhythm. Marvin Gaye
released this world-hit on his album "Midnight Love" (1982). This
version is featuring Dean Brown on guitars with a reggae-tinged flavor. Insiders know Dean Brown's debut album "Here" released at
Germany's ESC Records. His versatility is really amazing.
I Want You was co-written by Leon
Ware and T-Boy Ross ( Diana's brother) and released in 1976 on
the same named album. Chiara Civello is the female singer performing
this song with a warm sexual voice which reminds me at Sade. Read more
about this gifted and extremely beautiful Italian singer at Verve's
Startrumpeter Herb Alpert lets us suffer after a new
album since his latest project "Colors" (1999). Jason Miles motivated
the maestro to perform on Let's Get It On.
Originally written as a political song by Kenny Stover Marvin Gaye and
Ed Townsend changed the character to a sexual invitation. This erotic
force released on his album in 1973 was a tremendous success. As
instrumental song only the melody remains, addicted to the original
Heavy Love Affair
is taken from Gayes' album "In Our Liftime" (1978). James "D Train"
Williams most known by his hit "Something's On Your Mind" in
1983 is performing on this song. Jason Miles transferred this song to a
modern arrangement which is certainly a lot better than the original.
I am deeply impressed by his genius as performer, producer and
arranger. Jason Miles is playing Nord electro 2 and Roland JP8080. Marcus Miller's bass is
inescapably audibly. A musical treat "par excellence".
Trouble Man was originally written
as a soundtrack for the
movie "Trouble Man"(1972). Although the song might not have the
popularity of a soundtrack like Isaac Hayes' "Shaft" or Curtis
Mayfield's "Superfly" the moody style of this song was successful and
is sophisticated enough to deliver the stuff for Jason Miles' intense
cover version. The warm sound of "jazz wonder" Dominick Farinacci's
flugelhorn is the ideal instrumentation for this theme. I cite
Dominick's mother: "He always did well. Dominick was the type who
could just go in and pick something up for the first time and excel at
it. He just does what he does on such a nonchalant level, but the
intensity at which he does something is just unbelievable."
Too Busy Thinking About My Baby
is one of Marvin's songs I can remember the melody even
after nearly 40 years. Yes, that song was released on the album M.P.G.
in 1969. Guida de Palma founder and leader of the group
Jazzinho gives this song her
characteristic silky vocal vision. Jay Beckenstein (Spyro Gyra) adds
his magic instrumental feed back on alto sax.
I Heard It Through The
Grapevine written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong
was extremely successful not only sung by Marvin Gaye but as covers
of hundreds other artists like CCR, Aldrige White Band, Gladys Knight
and the Pips, Martha Reeves and more. In the center of my attention is
guitarist Nick Colionne who will soon release a new album on Narada
Jazz called "Keeping It Cool". Nick showcases that there is
space for creativity even on a song of this shortness.
was released on Marvin Gayes' album "Let's Get It On" (1973) and later
as live version in 1974. The sultry attitude of this song is perfectly
captured by singer Bobby Caldwell who describes himself as the
smoothest jazz artist.
Mercy Mercy Me
was part of Marvin Gayes' first concept album Whats Going On" (1971)
with crtitical lyric. "Oh mercy mercy me. Oh, things ain't what they
used to be no, no. Where did all the blue sky go? Poison is the wind
that blows from the north and south and east." This timeless message
cannot be heard in hundreds of instrumental covers by Grover
Washington Jr., Special EFX, Everette Harp and more. The melody has a
hooking potential making it easy to select it. Ann Drummond on flute
and Andy Snitzer on sax are giving the song their personal definitions.
Ain't Nothing Like The Real
Thing was written by Nickolas Ashford/Valerie Simpson and
was a great hit for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell in 1968. Jason Miles
who performs all instruments on this tune dedicated the song to the
late Richard Tee.
Jason Miles created a new miracle. His album is easy
to listen. His fine selection of artists mostly of New York's jazz
scene, his sophisticated arrangements, his personal participation as
musician and producer makes this album to one of the contemporary jazz
highlights of this year. I urgently recommend you to understand this
album not as background music. Listen to "What's Going On?" intensivly
to discover its musical finesse.