Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Woman's Day

Ron Miles: Woman's Day. Posted by Hello

The celebration that is Black History Month continues at HurdAudio with a focused ear tuned to one of my all time favorite listening experiences: Woman's Day by trumpeter Ron Miles from 1996.

"Dew" opens the disc with a great melodic line that flirts on the edge of smooth before pulling in some aggressive guitar tracks that hint at a healthy breadth of influences. I find myself turning over this melodic line often in my mind. There are so many ways one could arrange and develop it. "Dew" really should be on a short-list of candidates for a new generation of "standards."

Rudy Royston's drum solo at the opening of "Cobain" is a beautiful thing. It really captures the mood of this recording while setting up for the individual entrances of the other players prior to Ron Miles' next great melodic turn.

"Mommy On Top" is a funk inspired smile. Ron Miles layers his relaxed tone over the top of the infectious groove and holds to it as the band lurches into a full funkadelic sound as supporting accompaniment.

The sparks between Ron Miles and guitarist Bill Frisell have a lot to do with the overall sound of Woman's Day. Their respective tones are so compatible as is their responsive and restrained approach to improvisation. Woman's Day deftly moves between focused interaction between these two souls and larger ensemble expressions.

There are so many things that turned out on this recording: Quality compositions, great arrangements and an excellent ensemble of master improvising talent. But the thing that makes this disc stand out in my collection is the level of contrast both between and within the pieces that make up the whole of this collection. Ron Miles has a great sense of painting with some broad, stylistic brush strokes that allow him to draw from sounds associated with multiple genres. When the sonic texture turns toward hard rocking power chords he manages to keep the trumpet lines cool and aloof without growing distant. When the sonic texture runs along swing tangents his horn holds the same "cool" while engaging directly with the other players. These arrangements take some surprising turns and are enormously appealing.

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