Miles, a wonderful Bepop Singer
Music is holistic. It has the power to move people on a multitude of levels. Through my voice l want to be able to probe people to think and expand their preconceived conceptions about the voice. The voice is the one instrument which can communicate to all, crossing any existing barriers; language, sex, age, class or race."
In just a few short years, Miles Griffith's fearless approach to music has helped him to emerge as a serious contender on the modern jazz scene. Adept in any context, his organic style is adventurous, whimsical, fiery, heart-felt and always on the cutting edge. Griffith seamlessly weaves together a potpourri of styles illuminating the "down home" fun missing in much of jazz' current vocal genre. With an instrument which is poised and mature beyond his years, Griffith is also comfortable with some of the more traditional vocal repertoire. Noted jazz critic, Ira Gitler of Jazz Times states, "Griffith's balladry bows in the direction of the romantic baritones of the '40s and '50s," while Bob Young of the Boston Herald declares, "his oblique Betty Caterish approach shows off his dark phrasing and penchant for melody."
Miles Griffith's non-traditional use of the voice as a percussive instrument, combined with an uncanny harmonic sense has made him a prime choice for many musicians. Currently a member of T.S. Monk Septet, (June 2001) James Williams' ICU and Jack Walrath's Masters of Suspense, Griffith is at the forefront of some of the music's most inventive working bands. "I enjoy working with these guys because they love the music. It is a continual learning process because they all have such different concepts, and in each group I can strive to contribute something new," reflects the vocalist. In the past, Griffith has collaborated with such revered ensembles as the Jon Hendricks' Explosion, Jimmy Heath's Big Band, Roy Hargrove Big Band, Stanley Cowell Quintet and the Bill Saxton Quartet. His impressive resume also includes stints with Max Roach, Reggie Workman, Carl Allen, Bill Lee, Barry Harris, Tommy Campbell, Wilber Morris, Burhan Ocal, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Craig Harris, poet Sekou Sundiata, Michael Jefry Stevens "Songbook" and Miles Griffith/Tony Pancella Quintet and Pamela Baskin Watson.
In 1994, he played the lead role of "Jesse" in Wynton Marsalis', celebrated "Blood On The Fields," the specially commissioned jazz oratorio which premiered at Lincoln Centers' Alice Tully Hall. Griffith also participated on the recording which was released on Sony Music in mid 1997 to end Marsalis' Pulitzer Award winning world tour. Griffith's new and most recent recording collaboration is We've Got What You Need and Truth Justice & The Blues, with James Williams' ICU on Evidence Music. We've Got What You Need presents a stellar cast of female jazz vocal masters Etta Jones, Dianne Reeves and Vanessa Rubin. Liner-note writer Will Friedwald states, "Miles Griffith shows off the scat technique that made him Wynton Marsalis' choice for the leading role in Blood On The Fields." Truth Justice & The Blues, James Williams' ICU's first recording on Evidence, features pianist James Williams, Saxophonist Billy Pierce, bassist Christian McBride and others, liner-note writer and columnist for the Boston Globe, Bob Blumenthal attests that Griffith is "one of the keys to the ICU's success."
In addition to extensive work as a sideman, Griffith is gaining a reputation as a fine lyricist. His lyrics will be featured on two of Jack Walrath's recordings in 2001. Village Voice critic writer Jim Macnie states, "The vocalist has a wail that's able to shake a room, a visceral blues sensibility, and gregarious sense of humor." December of 1999, Griffith released his first CD as a leader called Spiritual Freedom. Critic Steven A. Loewy's CD review states, "What Griffith does do well is to take hold of a tune and squeeze it into his concept."
Griffith split his collective ensemble, Miles Griffith: Voice, Drums and Dance and created two groups, The Miles Griffith & Trio and The New Ting. Both groups still has the unique "performance art" flavor of Voice, Drums and Dance but takes the music into two directions: The contemporary jazz and avant-garde direction! The two groups mainly consist of Trio settings that includes pianists Orrin Evans and Michael Jefry Stevens, bassists Hill Greene and Richie Goods, percussionists Taru Alexander and David Pleasant and various visual artists. "These two groups essentially operates at the improvisatory level. Both groups invites the audience to actively engage in the musical experience. This is the premise of African music."
A native of Brooklyn, New York, Miles Griffith's musical roots emanate from the Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, A.M.E. and Yoruba ministries. However, he attributes his percussive vocal style to his Trinidadian roots. Both of his parents come from musical backgrounds, immigrating from Trinidad, and they have performed in numerous church choirs and steel bands throughout the tri-state area. Griffith's professional performance career began at the age of six. His first major gig was extra work in "One Trick Pony," Paul Simon's biographical movie. At age 11, he became a member of the esteemed Boys Choir of Harlem which led to extensive touring and performances for the young musician. Further honing his skills, the ambitious young musician was accepted into New York's prestigious LaGuardia High School of Music and the Performing Arts, where his concentration was classical voice. However, it was in his junior year that he fell with Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk and Billie Holiday. Prior to graduating, Griffith gigged around town with fellow schoolmates, pianist Stephen Scott, alto saxophonist Justin Robinson, drummers Gregory Hutchinson, Taru Alexander and others. During this time, his mainstay was the renowned Barry Harris Workshop where he performed on a weekly basis.
Griffith continued his musical education at Long Island University and onto Queens College where he received his Masters degree in Vocal Performance under the direction of Jimmy Heath and Sir Roland Hanna. As for Miles Griffith's future plans, he states, "I plan to put the voice back on the scene as the ultimate first instrument."
For further artist information, please call, fax or write: J. Lloyd Music, Inc. 460 Greene Avenue Brooklyn, N.Y. 11216 (718) 638-6398, Fax: (718) 639-4989
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