Solitaire Miles has always loved singing Swing tunes. Her grandmother, a singer with a Big Band in the late 1930s, exposed her to the music as a child. Several members of her family were musicians and she grew up hearing Blues and Jazz at Sunday afternoon family concerts. She performed as a teenager in the late 1980's with well known Jazz saxophonist Bruce Johnstone in the NW Pennsylvania area where she is originally from. Solitaire originally planned to be an opera singer, but while attending DePaul University in Chicago, she met the legendary Swing violinist Johnny Frigo who encouraged her to sing Jazz. After college in the early 1990's she began working in Chicago with Sax Maestro Von Freeman, and pianist Willie Pickens, who also played on her self-titled release in 2006.
"I was lucky to have their guidance because they were playing with the greats in their day.” During the late 90's while living in New York City, she performed with the great trumpeter Doc Cheatham, learning lots more Swing tunes. From these venerable bandleaders, she learned more about phrasing. Since then, she has since been an important part of the Chicago music scene performing with pianist Willie Pickens and leading her own groups.
Susie Blue and the Lonesome Fellas may be regarded as a surprise by some of Solitaire Miles’ swing fans, but it is a logical step in her evolution. While Solitaire can name a long list of influences like Kay Starr or Mary Ford, she does not sound exactly like any of the singers who preceded her, nor do her sidemen sacrifice their own individuality while doing justice to the material. Instead, they all fully understand the music and are able to add their own voices to the songs while being themselves.
For the future, Solitaire Miles plans to continue singing Roots and Rockabilly as well as Jazz. “I love them all, and I am looking forward to performing in Chicago and many different regions of the US.” Wherever they appear Susie Blue and the Lonesome Fellas can be relied upon to provide lively music and a fun time. This delightful group features Solitaire Miles at her very best, taking her place as one of the top Jazz and Blues singers around today.
- Scott Yanow, author of 11 books including Swing, The Jazz Singers and Jazz on Record 1917-76