A highly regarded trumpeter, composer, and educator, Ron Miles is a progressive artist with a bent toward harmonically nuanced, genre-bending jazz.
A star of the Denver, Colorado jazz scene and a longtime professor at the Metropolitan State University of Denver, Miles is a lauded performer who has worked as both a leader and a collaborator with such similarly inclined luminaries as Bill Frisell and Fred Hess.
Born in 1964 in Indianapolis, Indiana, Miles moved to Denver with his family at age 11. Around the same time, he started playing trumpet, taking classical and jazz lessons throughout high school. Also during his formative years, he played in school band ensembles as well as a local all-city combo. After high school, he earned his undergraduate degree from Denver University, during which time he first met saxophonist Fred Hess, often traveling to Boulder to play with him. Toward the end of his undergraduate studies, the trumpeter won a classical competition at the International Brass Clinic that was held at Indiana University in Bloomington. The accolade helped garner him a scholarship to attend New York's Manhattan School of Music, where he eventually earned his master's degree. In 1987, he made his recorded debut with Distance for Safety, followed two years later by Witness.
Also around this time, he toured as a member of the Mercer Ellington Orchestra, and traveled to Italy in the summer of 1992 with the musical Sophisticated Ladies. He also recorded with Hess, and played frequently with guitarist Bill Frisell. In 1996 he released his third studio album, My Cruel Heart, which found him exploring his increasingly distinctive brand of modern creative jazz with rock influences via a handful of guitarists including Todd Ayers, Farrell Lowe, Arnie Swenson, and Eddie Turner. That same year he appeared on the Bill Frisell album Quartet, and he returned in 1997 with the grunge and post-rock-influenced Woman's Day, which found him working again with Frisell and his rhythm section, featuring bassist Artie Moore and drummer Rudy Royston.
In the late '90s, Miles joined the faculty of Denver's Metropolitan State College, where he has taught for over two decades. He then rounded out the decade by pairing with drummer Ginger Baker for the Cream member's jazz-leaning album Coward of the County. Several intimate solo efforts followed, including 2000's Ron Miles Trio, 2002's Heaven, and 2003's Laughing Barrel. There were also additional well-regarded sessions with Frisell and Hess, as well as Colin Stranahan, DJ Logic, Jenny Scheinman, Otis Taylor, and more. In 2007 he appeared on the Frisell project Floratone, and followed up a year later with his own trio album, 3ology with Ron Miles.
Along with his continued work as an educator, he remains a highly prolific artist, issuing dates such as 2012's Quiver with Frisell and drummer Brian Blade. Also in 2012, he appeared on Hess' big-band date Speak, and reunited with Floratone for a second outing. He then returned to his solo work for 2014's Circuit Rider with Frisell and Blade. From there, he joined pianist Myra Melford for 2015's Snowy Egret, appeared on Ben Goldberg's Orphic Machine that same year, and contributed to drummer Matt Wilson's 2017 Carl Sandburg homage Honey and Salt. In 2017 Miles also delivered his own I Am a Man, with pianist Jason Moran, Frisell, Blade, and others. ~ Matt Collar, Rovi