You would not typically pair a trumpeter and guitarist in a jazz setting. Come to think of it, they aren’t typically paired in any other musical setting. Maybe that’s why these duets by Ron Miles and Bill Frisell are so refreshing.
Heaven is trumpeter Ron Miles’ fourth release as a leader and third collaboration with guitarist Bill Frisell. Miles joined Frisell on his recording Quartet from 1996 and the guitarist sat in on Miles’ 1997 Gramavision outing Woman’s Day. Bill Frisell of late seems to be gravitating towards kindred spirits, gentle souls sans the big city vision-thing.
Half of the music presented are covers and half originals. They cover Jelly Roll Morton’s “King Porter Stomp,” Thelonious Monk’s “We See,” Hank Williams’ “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” and Duke Ellington penned the title track. Miles and Frisell mold the folk music into chamber jazz and the jazz into folk. Monk becomes a nursery rhyme and Jelly Roll an amiable rollick. Miles’ trumpet sound has such a silky touch; it sometimes could pass for a flugelhorn.
Miles originals and Frisell’s graceful “Ron Miles” present equally balanced originals too. The opener “Just Married” is a folk road song where Miles’ bends notes around Frisell’s acoustic pacing. “Falsetto” ventures into otherworldly explorations of Miles outward tones without getting distracted and “Darken My Door” begs for lyrics by Robin Holcomb or Jewel.