First View


What have 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  "Celebrating 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 homage 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 amazing man."

I 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 website.

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 and pleasing.

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 black action 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.

Distant Lover 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.




  • Jason Miles' bio

  • Jason Miles offical site
  • Title: What's Going On? - Songs Of Marvin Gaye
    Artist: Jason Miles
    Year: 2006
    Length: 0:48:24
    Genre: Contemporary Jazz
    Label: Narada Jazz

    01 What's Going On? [4:40]
    02 Sexual Healing [4:08]
    03 I Want You [4:25]
    04 Let's Get It On [4:07]
    05 Heavy Love Affair [5:22]
    06 Trouble Man [4:24]
    07 Too Busy Thinking About My Baby [4:51]
    08 I Heard It Through The Grapevine [3:43]
    09 Distant Lover [4:46]
    10 Mercy Mercy Me [4:12]
    11 Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing [3:46]