Miles at Montreux

By
Rob Hochschild
July 14, 2008
Jeff Miles takes a solo at a March 2008 concert at Berklee.
Photo by Phil Farnsworth

He was one of more than 800 musicians to graduate from Berklee in May 2008, but now Jeff Miles stands alone atop the guitar universe. In last night's finalist concert of the Gibson Montreux Jazz Guitar Competition, Miles's playing earned him first prize. The competition is open to all guitarists under the age of 30.

Among the tunes Miles performed during the competition were Ornette Coleman's "When Will the Blues Leave?" Clifford Brown's "Sandu," Joe Henderson's "Inner Urge," and one of his own original compositions.

A native of San Diego, California, Miles began studying piano at the age of six and picked up guitar at twelve. In 2004 he moved to Boston to attend Berklee on scholarship, majoring in professional music with an emphasis in performance. At Berklee, he studied with Mick Goodrick, Tim Miller, Dave Santoro, Brett Willmott, Dave Samuels, Alain Mallet, Rick Peckham, Terri Lynn Carrington, and Hal Crook. He was a member of Berklee's 2007 Monterey Quartet and played high-profile shows with the group on both coasts.

Winning Montreux also means Miles gets to join the roster of featured artists-leading his own group-for next year's festival.

Alumnus Mark McKnight '06 and current Berklee student guitarist Alex Wintz, a performance major, finished just behind Miles. McKnight took third prize overall and Wintz made it all the way to the semifinals.

Miles's win in Switzerland is the second recent piece of news relating to Berklee alumni winning major awards. Last month, Alex Lacamoire was cowinner of a Tony Award for best orchestrations. For more information about awards won by Berklee alumni, please visit our Awards section.

Learn more: