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Rainbow Sign: The Music of Ron Miles

Ron Miles standing before colorful lights

Rainbow Sign
Brian Blade, Bill Frisell, Jason Moran, and Thomas Morgan Play the Music of Ron Miles

In March of 2022, the Music Department lost our dear colleague Ron Miles. In his more than 30 years of teaching at MSU Denver, Ron impacted countless lives and inspired so many students to believe in themselves and to enjoy the process of learning and developing as artists and scholars.

Join us for this special celebration of his life and his music, performed by his bandmates – drummer Brian Blade, guitarist Bill Frisell, pianist Jason Moran, and bassist Thomas Morgan.

Miles introduced the all-star quintet with his widely hailed 2017 release I Am a Man, which built on his trio with Frisell and Blade featured on 2012’s Quiver and 2014’s Circuit Rider. With Moran and Morgan on board Miles’ compressed lyricism continued to unfurl on the 2020 quintet album Rainbow Sign, his debut for the iconic Blue Note label. In adopting the name with its Biblical allusion the Rainbow Sign quartet expands a singular musical legacy. A gentle soul with a steel trap mind, a generous mentor and educator with a deep well of wisdom, Miles created a sumptuously melodic body of music that this band continues to illuminate.

Event Details

Friday, February 10, 2023
7:30 pm
King Center Concert Hall on the Auraria Campus


$65, VIP seating w/ reception (balcony seating)
$50, general
$30 seniors/military (w/valid ID at box office)
$15, students, 18 and under, MSU Denver alums (w/valid ID at box office)
Free to current MSU Denver students/faculty/staff (general seating only)

The Ron Miles Endowed Scholarship Fund

Ticket proceeds benefit the Ron Miles Endowed Scholarship Fund, extending Ron’s legacy as a dedicated teacher and mentor who always lifted others.

Consider a Donation

Ron Miles tribute concert happening Friday at MSU Denver

As featured on 9NEWS, Prof. Shane Endsley discusses the Rainbow Sign concert, the Ron Miles scholarship, and Ron’s lasting impact.

About the Band

Brian Blade

Brian Blade headshotBrian Blade was born and raised in Shreveport, Louisiana. The first music he experienced was the Gospel and songs of praise at the Zion Baptist Church where his father, Brady L. Blade, Sr., has been Pastor since 1961. In elementary school, music appreciation classes were an important part of his development and at age nine, he began playing the violin. Inspired by his older brother, Brady L. Blade, Jr., who had been the drummer at Zion Baptist Church, Brian shifted his focus to the drums throughout middle and high school.

During high school, while studying with Dorsey Summerfield, Jr., Brian began listening to the music of John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Thelonious Monk, Elvin Jones and Joni Mitchell. By the age of eighteen, Brian moved to New Orleans to attend Loyola University. From 1988 through 1993, Brian was able to study and play with most of the master musicians living in New Orleans, such as: John Vidacovich, Ellis Marsalis, Steve Masakowski, Bill Huntington, Mike Pellera, John Mahoney, George French, Emile Vinette, Germaine Bazzle, David Lee, Jr., Alvin Red Tyler, Tony Dagradi and Harold Battiste.

In 1997, Brian Blade formed The Fellowship Band with pianist Jon Cowherd.
The band members are bassist Christopher Thomas, saxophonists Myron Walden and Melvin Butler.  The Fellowship Band has released five recordings, beginning with their debut in 1998, Perceptual in 2000, Season of Changes in 2008, Landmarks in 2014 and Body And Shadow in 2017.

While continuing to work with The Fellowship Band, Blade has been a member of the Wayne Shorter quartet since 2000. He has recorded with Daniel Lanois, Joni Mitchell, Kenny Garrett, Joshua Redman, Ellis Marsalis, Chick Corea, Marianne Faithfull, Norah Jones, Emmylou Harris and Bob Dylan.

Bill Frisell

Bill Frisell headshotBill Frisell’s career as a guitarist and composer has spanned more than 40 years and many celebrated recordings, whose catalog has been cited by Downbeat as “the best recorded output of the decade”.

His latest recording released this November 11 is FOUR, on Blue Note, a quartet album with Gregory Tardy (clarinet; bass clarinet & tenor sax); Gerald Clayton (piano) & Johnathan Blake (drums). “Bill Frisell moves closer to a coolly thematic contemporary jazz… This new quartet is improvisationally looser in its ensemble conversations… and also builds compelling grooves out of gospelly moods…. irresistable.” – John Fordham; Jazzwise

In March 2022, a biography on Frisell, entitled Beautiful Dreamer – The Guitarist Who Changed The Sound of American Music, written by Philip Watson was published by Faber and released in the UK, Europe, South, Central America & Asia. Through unprecedented access, and interviews with his close family, friends and collaborators, Philip Watson tells the story of the innovative and influential guitarist and composer.

Recognized as one of America’s 21 most vital and productive performing artists, Frisell was named an inaugural Doris Duke Artist in 2012. He is also a recipient of grants from United States Artists and Meet the Composer, among others. From 2013 – 2015, Bill was Resident Artistic Director for Jazz at Lincoln Center for their Roots of Americana series, and in 2016, he was a beneficiary of the first FreshGrass Composition commission to preserve and support innovative grassroots music. Upon San Francisco Jazz opening their doors in 2013, he served as one of their Resident Artistic Directors. Bill is also the subject of a documentary film by director Emma Franz, entitled Bill Frisell: A Portrait, which examines his creative process in depth. He has also received an honorary doctorate from the Berklee College of Music.

Jason Moran

Jason Moran headshotJazz pianist, composer, and performance artist Jason Moran was born in Houston, TX in 1975 and earned a degree from the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with Jaki Byard. He was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2010 and is the Artistic Director for Jazz at The Kennedy Center. Moran currently teaches at the New England Conservatory.

Deeply invested in reassessing and complicating the relationship between music and language, Moran’s extensive efforts in composition, improvisation, and performance are all geared towards challenging the status quo while respecting the accomplishments of his predecessors. His activity stretches beyond the many recordings and performances with masters of the form including Charles Lloyd, Bill Frisell, and the late Sam Rivers, and his work with his trio The Bandwagon (with drummer Nasheet Waits and bassist Tarus Mateen) has resulted in a profound discography for Blue Note Records. The scope of Moran’s partnerships and music-making with venerated and iconic visual artists is extensive. He has collaborated with such major figures as Adrian Piper, Joan Jonas, Glenn Ligon, Stan Douglas, Adam Pendleton, Lorna Simpson, and Kara Walker; commissioning institutions of Moran’s work include the Walker Art Center, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Dia Art Foundation, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Harlem Stage, and Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Thomas Morgan

Thomas Morgan headshotThomas Morgan is a double bass player with a unique approach to the instrument and an exceptional musical understanding.  He has played on more than a hundred recordings and toured all over the world as a member of bands led by Bill Frisell, Jakob Bro, Craig Taborn, Masabumi Kikuchi, Jim Black, Dan Weiss, Paul Motian, John Abercrombie, Dave Binney, Steve Coleman, and Tomasz Stanko, among many others. It is Thomas Morgan’s extraordinary way of being in the moment in music and putting his own signature on it that has made him one of the most in demand jazz bassists on the international scene.

Remembering Ron

MSU Denver Alumni share reflections on their time spent with Ron and his lasting impact.