“Solitaire Miles has a voice that makes you think she’s opened a hole in the fabric of time and stepped right out of 1939.”
Chicago vocalist Solitaire Miles has been singing for most of her life, but I think she had been singing in her past lives as well, because her evocative style shines through, giving the listener an opportunity to glimpse into a portal of a bygone era. Starting her career in Chicago in 1993 as a Jazz vocalist, she worked with some of the most preeminent jazz icons alive, who were responsible for creating the Jazz genre in it’s heyday – performing and recording with Swing violinist Johnny Frigo, with sax Maestro Von Freeman and the Lion of Piano Jazz Willie Pickens. She also performed in New York City with Doc Cheatham, who was the lead trumpeter for Cab Calloway’s Big Band. Miles studied and worked with the fathers of American Jazz and her phrasing and song choices prove it.
Miles recorded 2 chart-busting Jazz albums in Chicago during various sessions starting in 2009 – 2011 with the best Jazzers in town. The biggest hit from the sessions is her arrangement of the idiosyncratic Hoagy Carmichael tune “Baltimore Oriole” which was her first song on the US Jazz Charts. Her album features a lot of piano with Willie Pickens, fiddle with Johnny Frigo, accordion and piano with Joe Vito, and lots of distinguished guitarists like Paulinho Garcia, Neal Alger and Andy Brown. Art Davis heats it up on trumpet and Jim Gailloreto cools it down on sax and flute. Her sidemen are no slouches either, with Robert Shy and Phil Gratteau on drums and Marlene Rosenberg, Larry Kohut and Joe Policastro on bass. Miles had already released the albums and a few of the tunes placed on the Jazz charts, but she’s recently had the entire collection re-mastered and is releasing them in one big digital set called the “Born to Be Blue Sessions” because that was the title of her first album from the collection, and was her best known and most charted album before she released her Western Swing set “Susie Blue & the Lonesome Fellas” in 2015.
Here are some of the critical reviews of “Born to Be Blue” when it was first released – “This delightful set not only proves that there is still plenty of life to be found in Swing tunes, but it features Solitaire Miles at her very best, taking her place as one of the top swing singers around today.” – Scott Yanow, Jazz writer and critic
“Miles knows that the best way to authenticate songs is to inhabit them entirely. By investing them with her own personality, as did her predecessors of the 1940s and 50s, she can make them sound nearly as fresh as they did when first performed. By willing herself into the world-view of their original creators, she avoids any hint of camp. Like a guided missile from the past, Solitaire Miles homes in on modern sensibilities in her approach. In interviews she has stated her desire to re-create the historical context – and especially the emotional context – in which these songs first appeared, yet also bring something personal to her interpretations. Her notes have a bit of the throaty warble that made June Christy, Chris Connor, and their cool-school successors such appealing poster girls for the 50s. Miles sings the melodies and swings the rhythms with just enough lilt, letting her smoky voice carry the day. ” – Neil Tesser, Jazz writer and critic
“Listening to singer Solitaire Miles is like stepping into a time machine and going back to a bygone era of great female jazz singers. With a clear, clean voice and keen sense of phrasing, Miles belongs to another period in time before screeching and electronic pitch correction came into popularity. A first rate presentation of classic tunes and of course the star of it all is Miles herself, with a honey-smooth voice and confident annunciation – she truly knows these songs inside and out. Nicely done!” – Brad Walseth, Jazz writer and critic
Miles has been busy with her Susie Blue persona as of late, preparing for a new album in June 2020 with her Lonesome Fellas, but in the “Born to Be Blue Sessions” she takes a moment to remember and share her Jazz roots and the wonderful recordings and musicians that helped shape her into the adroit and multifaceted vocalist that she is. – JM Reid, Chicago Music Guide
You can listen and download here https://susiebluelonesomefellas.bandcamp.com/album/solitaire-miles-the-born-to-be-blue-sessions