Glendale Pops subscribers probably don’t know the name or music of 30-year-old Miles Mosley, a bassist and composer who headlines Saturday with the Glendale Pops Orchestra at the Alex Theatre. The pairing is a departure for a series more likely to feature artists with identifiable histories that make for a pleasant date night.
“I’ve always been a proponent of showcasing new talent,” says Glendale Pops director Matt Catingub of the booking. “It’s part of my mission to include this type of a showcase along with the things we did in our first season. As a pops organization, we have the freedom to explore many different musical angles.”
Mosley is a rare combination of instrumental virtuoso and ensemble visionary who was classically trained on the contrabass at the Colburn School of Music. John Clayton, the bass giant who’s equally proficient in classical and jazz, mentored him. Clayton is also a formidable composer/orchestrator and his influence on Mosley is incalculable.
“John treated me like a son,” Mosley says, during a break from mixing his forthcoming “Roar” CD.
Dig into the personnel and musical credits for Christina Aguilera, Herbie Hancock, India Arie, Chris Cornell and Jason Mraz and you’ll find Mosley’s name. He composed, arranged, co-produced, and played on actor Terence Howard’s “Shine Through It” CD. That debut effort bowed at No. 6 on the Billboard R&B;/Hip Hop chart.
Barbara Sealy’s SB Music Management oversees the business aspects of Mosley's music. She had been responsible for bringing the activities of the Thelonious Monk Institute to the L.A. City Schools. Hamilton High, where Mosley attended, was one such school.
“Miles was one of a group of young musicians” at Hamilton, Sealy recalls. They were all more or less good, but there was something about what Miles played that stood out. You could just feel it; even though he hadn’t been playing for very long.”
She kept an eye on Mosley as he matured and, when he was ready, she knew she wanted to work with him. “He’s a great bass player,” she says, “but he’s also an incredible writer and arranger. He gets hired to play for people like Lauryn Hill, Jonathan Davis of Korn, Mos Def and Common — and he ends up writing, arranging or being their musical directors.”
Mosley has an arrangement of Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile” that he melded with Led Zeppelin’s “Kasmir.” Sealy notes, “The Hendrix organization hadn’t granted permission to perform that tune in a long time, but they gave it to him. Whenever Miles plays it, he gets a big hand.”
Hendrix is a personal touchstone for Mosley. “His love and passion were for jazz and blues,” Mosley explains, “but he was thrust into rock music; to him it was all the same. A lot of the people I like had all these different things in their music: Curtis Mayfield, James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone.”
Mosley will bring his drummer Tony Austin to the Alex. “I’m rough on drummers,” Mosley said. “Tony was a protégé of jazz drummer Billy Higgins, and his beat is always moving. I don’t need a drummer to show me where 2 and 4 are — I can find that myself. I need somebody to help me pull this train.”
Catingub, the gifted and empathetic arranger, enthuses: “Miles’ music is definitely some of the most unique stuff I’ve had the pleasure of orchestrating. It’s always great fun and it’s a challenge to match his unique style with an orchestra.”
If you’re introduced to Mosley at the Alex, you’re not likely to forget his name or his music.
KIRK SILSBEE writes about jazz and culture for Marquee.
What: Miles Mosley with the Glendale Pops
Where: Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale
When: Saturday, Oct. 13, 8 p.m.
Contact: (818) 243-2539, email@example.com