Born in Brooklyn, New York, Jason Miles attended Indiana State University in the 1970s. At the height of the fusion revolution, Miles returned to New York to immerse himself in the Big Apple session scene and gradually gained acceptance from like-minded innovators in the highly competitive field of electronic music. By applying his innovative synth programming techniques, Miles got his feet planted firmly in the fusion world, a style that would rule the 1970s. In 1979, he made his first recording as a leader, Cosmopolitan, which featured bassist Marcus Miller and trumpeter Michael Brecker. While it was never released, that project kicked off a continuous working relationship with both highly regarded artists. A longtime advocate of electronic music, Miles has been a well-respected figure on the New York studio scene since the '80s as a first-call keyboard programmer and player for A-list artists such as Miles Davis, Luther Vandross, Marcus Miller, Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, David Sanborn, and Michael Jackson.
In 1984, Miles programmed the synthesizers on Marcus Miller's Jamaica Boys and consistently worked with him through 1994. During this fertile period, the two collaborated on eight projects for Vandross and in 1986 provided the classic synthesizer programming for Miles Davis' electronic masterwork Tutu. That project also solidified Miles' relationship with then Warner Bros. executive producer Tommy LiPuma and co-producer and musical arranger George Duke.
The 1990s proved to be a major turning point in Miles' career as a synthesist. Back-to-back projects for such top-name artists as longtime collaborator Michael Brecker's Now You See It...Now You Don't in 1990, Whitney Houston's I'm Your Baby Tonight also in 1990, Vandross' The Power of Love in 1991, and Michael Jackson's HIStory in 1995, among many others, provided the perfect way for his pop and jazz musical accomplishments to be made known to a wider audience. During this time, Miles also made significant forays into other media, including composing the award-winning score for the animated feature film The Snow Queen. In 1995, he produced and co-wrote the music for the Emmy nominated People: A Musical Celebration of Diversity, an animated film for the Disney Channel. In 1997, he and his wife, Kathy Byalick, released Visionary Path, a new age recording with narration by such artists as the then-unknown Diana Krall and award-winning vocalists Roberta Flack and Nona Hendryx, and actor F. Murray Abraham. Miles also produced an award-winning children's video for Phylicia Rashad (Rhymin' Time).
Two solo CDs, World Tour in 1994 and Mr. X in 1995, marked Miles' introduction as a bandleader. He called on his friends and longtime collaborators Grover Washington Jr., Herbie Mann, Steve Ferrone, and Michael Brecker. However, it was Miles' collaboration with the Telarc Jazz record label in the late '90s that provided his big breakthrough as a producer/composer/arranger/performer.
In 2000, the label released his highly acclaimed The Music of Weather Report, a star-studded tribute to the innovative and influential fusion group of the '70s. In 2001, Miles won a Grammy award for his production of A Love Affair: The Music of Ivan Lins. Termed "the dream record of my life," the CD features such stellar artists as Sting, Vanessa Williams, Brenda Russell, and the master himself, Ivan Lins. The third tribute CD in that triumvirate was recorded on Q Records and was titled To Grover, With Love. The CD was nominated for Record of the Year by the National Smooth Jazz Awards in 2002 and was Miles' heartfelt tribute to the great saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr., who died suddenly of a heart attack in December 1999.
Miles believes that the key to his success as a producer is his ability to consistently deliver the goods. "When you do stuff and you make it work, people eventually stop doubting your ability to pull it all together." That integrity and respect level is apparent on his 2002 release for Q Records, Brazilian Nights Featuring Romero Lubambo. Once again, Miles pulls the crème de la crème of the music world together to perform some of Brazil's greatest songs.
In 2005, Miles continued his tradition of tribute albums with Miles to Miles: In the Spirit of Miles Davis. A year later, he turned his attention to yet another of his idols, singer Marvin Gaye, with What's Going On?. His next album, Soul Summit, featured an all-star group of musicians including Susan Tedeschi, Karl Denson, Maysa, and others, performing live at the 2007 Berks Jazz Fest in Reading, Pennsylvania.
In 2015, Miles paired with forward-thinking trumpeter Ingrid Jensen for Kind of New. The concert album, To Grover with Love: Live in Japan, appeared in 2016.~ Paula Edelstein