Rethymno, Crete – 2012

Miles Jay plays Contrabass, Buzuk, and Lyra, is a composer and instrument maker, and an active performer with many prominent artists around the world. Broad in range of his musical influences and communities, Miles has lived abroad for years absorbing styles from many traditions, and has performed in such venues as Carnegie Hall, the Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi, TED 2013 Long Beach, and the United Nations. Raised in Los Angeles, Miles is a graduate of the University of California Santa Barbara, where he studied jazz and classical music, composition and orchestration, and earned his BA in Ethnomusicology under Dr. Scott Marcus.

From 2005 to 2012, Miles lived in Egypt and Lebanon, performing and collaborating with many beloved artists of the region, including Youssou N’Dour, Ziad Rahbani, Naseer Shamma, Ross Daly, and the Cairo Symphony Orchestra. During this time he co-founded and co-produced several ensembles and albums, as well as traveled extensively around the region for concerts in Dubai, Turkey, Greece, Tunisia, Oman, Algeria, Senegal, Syria, and Western Europe. Active in studios as well, Miles worked with composer Khaled Mouzannar as music consultant and instrumentalist on the score to Nadine Labaki’s latest film “Where do we go Now,” an official selection of both Sundance and Cannes. Throughout all of this valuable experience, Miles focused on re-imagining the bass’s role both as an accompanying instrumental and as a melodic lead, adapting a wide range of Arabic, Greek, and Turkish ornamentation to develop his own extended technique when playing with a bow.

The influence this musical journey had on Miles’ bass playing took a new turn in 2009. In need of a more travel friendly contrabass, and acoustically saturated by the many instruments he encountered on the road, Miles began designing and hand-building a new instrument; a bass with the exact string dimensions of a conventional contrabass, but with a new body utilizing an animal skin for a soundboard, long but narrow enough to fit overhead on a plane. Acclaimed for its warmth and punch when plucked, and its highly responsive and clear tone when bowed, Miles instrument has been featured on recent studio albums of Ross Daly, and Naseer Shamma’s latest live album with Conga legend Giovanni Hidalgo.

On his 2014 solo album release ‘the Troposphere,’ Miles composed for a new ensemble of previously uncombined instruments which he’d fallen in love with and began playing along his travels. The Syrian Buzuk, Cretan Lyra, Turkish Tapan, Egyptian Daff, and Sudanese bongos join his contrabass in an impressionistic series of pieces blending Mediterranean modal styles with post-modern string orchestrations over Afro-Arabic percussion.

Other performance venue highlights of Miles’ include the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York; Roman Theater of Carthage, Tunisia; Dancing with the Stars, ABC; Roll back Malaria Festival, Dakar Senegal; MEZZO; Oman Royal Opera House; Matise Festival, Paris; Lightning in a Bottle, CA; Algerian Cultural Palace, Constantine; Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco; Oslo World Music Festival; Olympic Badminton Theater, Athens; Diyarbakir, Turkey; Chicago Symphony Hall.

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