Barry Miles

Barry Miles (born March 28, 1947) is an American jazz pianist from Newark, N.J.

Miles was born Barry Silverlight in Newark, New Jersey, on March 28, 1947, and raised in North Plainfield, where he took up piano, drums, and vibraphone as a child. In 1956, the nine-year-old prodigy became a union musician. Some of his earliest backing stints include gigs with Miles Davis and John Coltrane. He appeared on the TV shows To Tell the Truth, The Andy Williams Show, and Dick Van Dyke’s variety show.

In 1961, the 14-year-old Miles released his first album, Miles of Genius, on Charlie Parker Records. It’s comprised of six post-bop originals that showcase his rapidfire drumming with emphasis on snare rolls. He’s backed on this recording by pianist Duke Jordan, bassist Al Hall, trumpeter John Glasel, and saxophonists Bob Miller (alto) and George Clarke (tenor).

At age 16, Miles wrote the instructional book Twelve Themes With Improvisations, published in 1963 by Belwin-Mills. As the decade unfolded, he worked with fellow newcomers Woody Shaw, Jimmy Owens, and Eddie Gómez.

By the time he entered Princeton University, Miles turned his attention to piano. In 1966, he released Barry Miles Presents His Syncretic Compositions (Venture Records), comprised of four lengthy free-jazz excursions, recorded live at Princeton with bassist Walter Brooker, drummer Don Perullo, trumpeter Lew Soloff, and alto saxist Robin Kenyatta. His use of the term “syncretic” symbolized his synthesis of multiple ideas, both old and new, innovative and imitative, into the framework of jazz.

One Miles composition, “Until,” became the title-piece on Kenyatta’s debut album, released in 1968 on Vortex Records. As the decade closed, Miles added the electric piano to his arsenal.


  • Miles of Genius (1961)
  • Presents His New Syncretic Compositions (1966)
  • Barry Miles (1970)
  • White Heat (1972)
  • Scatbird (1973)
  • Barry Miles and Silverlight (1974)
  • Magic Theater (1975 • Barry Miles’ Silverlight)
  • Together (1976 • Eric Kloss & Barry Miles)
  • Sky Train (1977)
  • Fusion Is… Barry Miles (1978)


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