With Ron Miles
Tapestry Records 76011

By Ken Waxman

This album is appropriately titled. In many cases the addition of another musician raises the level of an entire band’s playing and produces an unexpectedly fine CD. So it is on this session, where Denver-based cornetist Ron Miles joins the 3ology combo from Colorado

On evidence of the one track on which the guest isn’t featured, 3ology, consisting of brothers Doug Carmichael on alto saxophone and bassist Tim Carmichael plus Jon Powers on drums, are the sort of jazz-jam band that exists most places in North America, groove-makers whose forte is performance not profundity. But the presence of Miles, a veteran educator who also works with saxophonist Fred Hess and guitarist Bill Frisell supplies a new dimension. With an attack that bounds from mid-range lyricism to atonal puffing and triplet exposure, the brass man suggests that 3ology can transcend the funk. Miles benefits from the link-up as well. The sugary strategies he sometimes exhibits on other CDs are banished by interaction with the trio’s constant groove.

The stand-out track is “Nightmares of My Youth”, a group composition which is positively avant-garde. With tympani reverberations, below-the-bridge scrapping from the bassist and a distracted reed line in its exposition, the piece reaches critical mass with double-counterpoint horn lines. Moving from Don Cherry-like puffing atop a bowed bass line, Miles’ invention solidifies the tune’s development as a moderato melody which is completed with a twang from bassist Carmichael.

Tim Carmichael’s guitar-like facility serves him well elsewhere as does the steady groove he outputs – which often locks into Power’s brawny backbeat. As for Doug Carmichael, he can reed bite, flutter-tongue and chirp strident tones when he’s challenged – as he is by Miles contrapuntal slurs on tunes such as “Gonna Leave A Mark” and “Back in Hotchitakee”. However he also has a tendency to lapse into overdone mellowness.

With Ron Miles is a session that proves that interesting music can be produced from unheralded players if the right circumstances are evoked. Whether it’s a one/off anomaly or the beginning of a re-thinking of 3ology’s usual style is some thing only the trio members can decide.

Track Listing: 1. All Miles 2. Gonna Leave A Mark 3. Back in Hotchitakee 4. Dear Rita 5.Hold the Letter 6. Make it Through 7. Snow 8. Time 9. Fingers in a Glove

Personnel: Ron Miles (cornet); Doug Carmichael (alto saxophone); Tim Carmichael (bass) and Jon Powers (drums)

— For All About Jazz – New York June 2010