Albums that can stand the test of time don’t come along every day but one recording that already carries the hallmarks of classic status will be re-released on July 18. The Jason Miles tribute to Grover Washington ‘To Grover With Love’ first came out in April 2001, sixteen months after Washington’s untimely death and when I recently talked to Miles I first asked him about the knack he has for turning what at first sight appears to be ‘the tribute concept’ into an art form. He was quick to stress that “these records should not be viewed as collections of covers” and anyone who has heard his Grammy winning ‘ A Love Affair : The Music Of Ivan Lins’, the nod he makes to ‘Celebrating The Music Of Weather Report’ or, more recently, his ‘What’s Going On? - Songs Of Marvin Gaye’ will wholeheartedly agree with his sentiments. “It’s all about taking the music to another place” he explains. “What I do, one of the gifts I have, is to gather together just the right group of musicians to create the collaborations that re-imagine familiar songs into something new and fresh but with the feeling and passion of the original artist.” This approach is well demonstrated with his 2005 project ‘Miles To Miles – In The Spirit Of Miles Davis’ where, with original compositions, he brings to life the spirit and creative vibe of the legendary trumpeter, expanding musical ideas into a realm that was unheard of during the halcyon days of Davis.
With ‘To Grover With Love’ the thinking was just the same. In 1996 Grover Washington Jr. had featured on the Jason Miles solo album ‘Mr X’ where he played on the track ‘Chicken And Waffles’. Consequently the bond Miles had with him transcended a mere love for his music. Shortly after the news of Grover’s death had been announced, and in LA to finish up the Ivan Lins project, Miles realized he had to do something. He proceeded to map out what he wanted to achieve and, limited only by the reluctance of some labels to release their artists, pulled together a veritable who’s who of contemporary jazz musicians. The roster included ten different sax players but when it came to getting the record made he first had to experience several rejections before finding a home for the project at the then division of the QVC shopping network, Q Records. He also went on to release the 2002 ‘Brazilian Nights’ with Q but this was the last CD the label put out before it folded. There was a real risk that ‘Brazilian Nights’ and ‘To Grover With Love’ would be lost forever but, showing the same passion and determination that he has displayed throughout his career, Jason Miles stepped in to buy back the masters of both disks.
Now, at its new home of Artizen Records, the ‘To Grover With Love’ adventure is set to begin again. Miles is thrilled that at long last the record is in the hands of a group of people who ‘get it’ and who have the ability to provide much needed visibility. It’s a wonderful collection that, true to type, includes a version of ‘Mr Magic’ like you have never heard it before and a funky, organic interpretation of ‘Winelight’ featuring the sax of Gerald Albright that will banish recent covers of this classic track into distant memory.
As for Jason Miles, he will be on the road this summer with Candy Dulfer to promote the ‘What’s Going On? CD and also has projects in the pipeline that include a collection of Motown tunes done with a chill vibe and a collaboration with vocalist Mike Mattison.
Check back here soon for a complete review of ‘To Grover With Love’ and for more on Jason Miles go to www.jasonmilesmusic.com