Tuesday, November 06, 2012

CD Review: Ron Miles - Quiver

Ron Miles

This is a beautiful album. With only trumpet, guitar and drums, Ron Miles, Bill Frisell and Brian Blade respectively create a sound that is simultaneously spare but very full. The results don't ever sound like something is missing from the group but rather enthralls with the way they use what they have.

Frisell is no stranger to this kind of set-up, having playing in Paul Motian's trio with saxophonist Joe Lovano. But Brian Blade is no Motian, which is to say he's his own man. He keeps tempo even as he adds impressionistic colors the music. His bass drum accents on "Just Married" give the song's two-step an infectious punch that drives it along with Frisell's countryfied picking, the latter instructed by Miles to evoke "Big Buckle Elvis." This follows a slow, 10-minute reading of 1920s obscurity "There Ain't No Sweet Man That's Worth the Salt of My Tears," which doesn't waste a minute of time and includes some thunderous mallet work from Blade.

Hearing recordings like this reminds of why Frisell won me over the first time I heard him. The mood that he creates on these sessions, balancing accompaniment and lead voicing, is hard to replicate. Notes from chords scatter over the drums and between the trumpet in "Queen B" and work double-duty in Duke Ellington's "Doin' the Voom Voom."

And, saving the best for last, there's Ron Miles, whose vision is responsible for all of this. His compositions reveal a vast knowledge of music. Some of these roots get referenced in his own writing, such as "Bruise," which has the off-beat style of Monk's "Evidence," before it opens up into an angular swing, wrapping up with a blues groove. Miles' unaccompanied opening to "Mr. Kevin" sounds so rich that a solo trumpet album doesn't seem out of the question from him. Another long track comes with "Days of Wine and Roses," in which all three players stretch their own way, never clearly stating the song's melody until they're done with it. By that time it's almost hard to believe that they've gotten something so emotionally deep out of a song that can often sound so maudlin.

No comments: