Age is Just a Number
The Reality is I just turned 70. Time goes by fast. If you're 30 don't blink..You'll be where I'm at soon enough. I'm lucky. in my 47 years in this business I've learned that what one needs to do in life is to keep yourself healthy.I eat great, exercise, never was into hard drugs or alcohol and am fortunate to have music as an emotional outlet. I've also been blessed with a great partner who has supported my dreams and visions..even when they seemed crazy. So what and I getting at ?
It is true that in America after you've reached a certain age the attitude towards one's abilities change. At 70 I'm still making music that i and others believe is still fresh and relevant, modern and has the air of experience when you listen to it. I've always gone in my own lane to find my own space. I've been mentored by some incredible musicians and artists and I'm trying to do the same for others.
When we were making TuTu for Miles Davis in early 1986 Miles was 60. Sixty in 1986 was different than 60 in 2021. Marcus Miller, One of the producers of the album, was interviewed about TuTu and he said this in Jazz Times March 2002..."you have to remember than when we recorded TuTu..Miles was 60 years old...Tell me someone at that age who is doing music that is current and relevant. It's a testament to his greatness that people still expected him to be in the forefront at 60. He delivered and made a record that defined a period."
I'm here to tell you that age as a musician means nothing. It should have no affect on ones musical vision and the acceptance from the public. Always wanted to work with the great Argentinian sax player Gato Barbieri. He was one of the most fiery players that I ever heard and I followed his music that was a great blend of jazz and the music of South America for many years. I finally got the opportunity when he was 70 years old. I heard him play a number of times live and knew that he had plenty of gas left in the tank. Unfortunately ,many who I spoke to at record companies did not feel the same way.
After 911,I was musical director for a big benefit at the beacon theater in NYC with all these great jazz and pop artists and I included Gato on the show. We did Last Tango in Paris and he blew the roof off of the building. An Executive from Concord Records was there and after seeing and hearing Gato he was offered a deal on Peak Records ,one of their associated labels. I told him I wanted to revisit those days when he had that great energy and fire in his playing. I took the advice that I learned from making TuTu and applied it to the album. I brought together some incredible musicians like Sheila E, Vinnie Coliauta and also had his former producer and friend Herb Alpert who was also in his late 60's to make this wonderful album that was called The Shadow of the Cat.The album won Billboard's Latin Jazz Album of the Year (2003) and also get a Latin Grammy nomination. The premise was correct.
What worked with TuTu and what I learned from that now worked for Gato. I've always tried to keep the music I make whether its producing an artist or making a new album for one of my projects like Kind of New or Global Noize looking towards the future. It would be nice if society didn't have a predisposed vision of what age is and our ability to still grow and be creative. I couldn't imagine myself being any other way. Unfortunately in the USA I still think we are a ways off of accepting that. I have experienced age discrimination. I have to constantly work to prove that idea wrong.
I just released new bonus tracks that will go with my last album on Ropeadope... "Jason Miles Kind of New- Black Magic." They are funky and fresh and very now in attitude and sound. Randy Brecker who is now over 75 Plays his ass off on the song 1974. When I heard him on the track for the first time i thought it was Randy 30 years ago-He hasn't lost a step...So all I ask for is the respect of working hard to stay on top of my craft and strive to get to that next space. When I saw Herbie Hancock a couple of years ago I was backstage talking with him for a few minutes. He was 79 and just played a 2 hour show.He was awesome..One of the best times I have heard him.When I mentioned to him that I thought at 79 he sounded and played better than ever he basically said "Stop Counting" That totally rang the truth. I'm going to let my enthusiasm for music and life lead the way..Thats what we all should be doing
BTW Jason Miles Kind of New- Black Magic with Bonus Tracks is available on Band Camp-Also on all streaming services