Stereophile: Performance 5/5 Stars / Sonics 5/5 Stars
One Of TAS' Ten Best Jazz Albums of 2020!
Cornetist and composer Ron Miles makes his Blue Note debut with Rainbow Sign, the follow-up to his widely acclaimed 2017 album I Am A Man, which reconvenes the same remarkable band featuring pianist Jason Moran, guitarist Bill Frisell, bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Brian Blade. Miles wrote most of Rainbow Sign as his father was passing away in the summer of 2018, and the album is both a loving dedication and a riveting spiritual document that scores the journey from Earth to eternal peace.
Never, throughout this journey, does the music or the band lose its grip on a sense of swing or at least a bead of the blues, and usually there's much more than a bead. (One caveat: The album begins with a loud, ugly bleat. It lasts about 10 seconds; wait it out.) Miles blows cornet with a plangent, golden glow, mainly in the midrange, but he can veer into smears or rocket up the octaves when he wants. [Jason] Moran and Bill Frisell, two of the most versatile musicians on the scene, play off, against, or in tandem with each other with clairvoyant cool. Brian Blade intensifies the rhythm, doubling the beat or splitting it into atomized particles. [Thomas] Morgan lays down the time but twists it, too. There's a limber feel to this music, but the interplay is insouciantly tight. If there's a more inventive quintet right now, stretching the boundaries of mainstream jazz without breaking the frame, I haven't heard it... Rainbow Sign isn't merely the Recording of the Month: it's also, so far (I'm writing in late October), 2020's jazz record of the year.
With Rainbow Sign, Miles has accomplished more than releasing a fine album, accompanied by a special gathering of musical souls. While he has indeed produced one of the defining jazz recordings of the year 2020, he has as well spoken to the global coalition of jazz forms, in a single, unifying voice.
- 180g Vinyl
- Double LP
- Gatefold jacket
- Like Those Who Dream
- Queen Of The South
- Rainbow Sign
- The Rumor
- Custodian Of The New
- This Old Man
- A Kind Word