If we are lucky, sometimes an artist, visual, musical, or otherwise, produces work that just pierces us, and seems to go right from outside of us directly into our eyes, ears, brain, heart, or soul. That was my reaction to hearing Bill Miele’s electric bass in a jazz piano trio setting almost 40 years ago. I was blown away at how what he played went right into me, right through me: “Exactly what I would play if I could do that” was and remains my thought. Every note was perfect: a clear, defined tone and always in the exact right place to anchor and drive the rhythm.
Shortly after that first hearing, I was overjoyed to see that Miele became the regular bassist with Bobby Greene and Coleus, a steadily working jazz and fusion band that played several times a month in the New Bedford area. It meant I could hear him often, always with other great players. He also played and occasionally recorded with many in the Providence scene, including John Allmark, Greg Abate, the late Matt Quinn, and Dan Moretti among others. It was the lack of available CD recordings that featured Bill and a few others like pianist John Harrison that drove me to start Whaling City Sound. It is not an accident that WCS003 (“The Psychic Horns”) and WCS005 (“A Killer Wail” by The Whaling City Sound Superband, made up of former members of Coleus) were among our earliest efforts. He is also on a few later and recent releases.
Bill was a very private person, with an extremely dry sense of humor and a calm, understated demeanor. His last years with the Jim Robitaille Trio were an inspiration. Bill was very sick and in pain, but his playing conveyed an energy that was palpable and life-affirming. Jim Robitaille said it best: “His strength and courage through it all in recent years made evident how much of a life force music was for him.”