The brilliant and beloved cornetist, composer, bandleader, and educator Ron Miles passed away last night at his home in Denver, Colorado. His death was confirmed by his manager and producer Hans Wendl. The cause was complications from Polycythemia Vera, a rare blood disorder. He was 58 years old.
Ron is survived by his wife Kari Miles, daughter Justice Miles, son Honor Miles, mother Jane Miles, brother Johnathan Miles, sisters Shari Miles-Cohen and Kelly West, and half-sister Vicki M. Brown.
“Ron was such a gifted artist,” said Blue Note President Don Was. “He was a sweet, soulful man whose character was reflected in every exquisite note he played. We are heartbroken to lose him so soon, but he will live forever through the music he’s left behind for us.”
Ron was born on May 9, 1963, in Indianapolis, Indiana, and moved with his family to Denver when he was 11 years old. Soon after he began playing trumpet and studied both classical and jazz. He went on to study music at the University of Denver, University of Colorado Boulder, and the Manhattan School of Music. In 1987, Ron released Distance for Safety, the first of a dozen albums he would make over the next 35 years including such critically acclaimed works as Heaven (2002), Quiver (2012), and I Am A Man (2017). Ron received a GRAMMY nomination for his performance on Joshua Redman’s 2018 album Still Dreaming.
Ron’s final album was his Blue Note Records debut, Rainbow Sign, which was released in 2020 and featured a quintet with some of his most frequent collaborators: guitarist Bill Frisell, pianist Jason Moran, bassist Thomas Morgan, and drummer Brian Blade. Written in tribute to Ron’s father Fay Dooney Miles, who had passed away in 2018, JazzTimes called it “spiritually powerful,” while DownBeat said it was “a deeply touching album” and “by far Miles’ most impressive work as a bandleader.”
As a Professor of Music at the Metropolitan State University of Denver, Ron also led a distinguished and lengthy career in music education where he had taught since the late 1990s.