To Grover Washington Jr. with jazz
Producer, arranger, composer and keyboardist Jason Miles has been bringing audiences to their feet at jazz festivals all over the United States with "To Grover with Love," a tribute to the music of Grover Washington Jr., which will be presented during RiverJazz, 8:30 p.m. May 24, Musikfest Café, ArtsQuest Center, SteelStacks, 101 Founders Way, Bethlehem.
Chick Corea and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band are two of the many acts in the 2013 RiverJazz presented by Concannon Miller, May 9 - 24.
Miles, who plays keyboards, put together an all-star group for the tribute to Washington, including saxophonist Andy Snitzer, bassist Gerald Veasley, trumpeter Dominic Farinacci, guitarist Nick Moroch, drummer Adrian Harpham and award-winning singer Maya Azucena.
Miles, four-time Grammy nominee and a Grammy winner, honored Washington's legacy with two successful albums, "To Grover With Love" (2002, 2008).
"I also released 'Grover Live' in 2010," Miles says in a recent telephone interview. "It was unreleased music from his 1997 concert in the Paramount Center for the Arts in Peekskill, New York.
"One day, Washington's wife, Christine, called me and said she had a bunch of digital tapes. I listened and said, 'Wow!'
"This is my way of keeping the legacy of Grover alive."
Washington (1943 - 1999) had instrumental hits with "Mister Magic" and "Winelight." Washington collaborated on several hits with vocalists, including Bill Withers, "Just the Two of Us"; Patti LaBelle, "The Best Is Yet to Come"; and Phyllis Hyman, "A Sacred Kind of Love."
Miles has collaborated with artists from many genres, including rhythm and blues, pop, Latin, jazz and Brazilian. Miles gained notoriety in the 1980s, working with Marcus Miller through his synthesizer programming on the Miles Davis masterpieces "Tutu," "Music From Siesta" and "Amandla."
"Miles Davis had just moved from Columbia records to Warner Brothers," says Miles. "Miles was making this CD in Los Angeles and the producer wasn't happy with the way things were going. He called Marcus Miller and said he was looking for songs for Davis's new album.
"Marcus called me because he wanted everything to revolve around synthesizers and electronics. We did some demos, sent them to L.A. and the result was the release of the three albums."
Miles also worked on recordings by David Sanborn, Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and Aretha Franklin. He has partnered with DJ Logic and Falu to create the fusion group Global Noize.
He tours the world, performing at jazz festivals, including Berks Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival and Jazz Aspen,with a variety of artists, performing tributes to Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross and Grover Washington Jr.
His latest project, with Global Noize, is the CD, "Sly Reimagined," a tribute to Sly and the Family Stone, scheduled for release next month.
Reflects Miles, "The industry has presented its challenges along the way, but there has been so much beauty among the disappointment.
"All I ever wanted was a chance to play music and make a living at it, and I'm grateful to have had these rich experiences, surrounded by so many talented and loving people. I wouldn't trade these moments for anything."