Cornetist Ron Miles’ second album with the lineup of guitarist Bill Frisell and drummer Brian Blade is a lyrical excursion through spiritual territory.
The first track, “Comma,” sets the prevailing mood — after its opening wash of directed free-form improvisation — with Frisell’s uplifting major key chord progression. Frisell’s liquidity provides the harmonic freedom for Miles’ and Blade’s solos.
Miles’ compositions are deceptively complex. His melodies have contours like the landscape of the Mile High City he hails from, all the more ear-friendly for his rich, round tone. But he also plays with the time, employing irregular meters that sound so natural from this trio’s fluency that you don’t realize eighth notes have been dropped unless you try to count the time. Miles’ solos expand on that contoured time with Frisell’s counterpoint or unison lines. In this setting, Charles Mingus’ “Jive Five Floor Four” and “Reincarnation of a Lovebird” and Jimmy Giuffre’s “Two Kinds of Blues” complete the circuit.
A particularly pleasing aspect of Circuit Rider (Enja/Yellowbird Records) are drummer Blade’s solos: They’re accompanied by Frisell and Miles with Blade’s awareness of the percussion pitches, making this follow-up to Quiver a true trio effort.