In ballet, a "pas de deux" is a dance or figure for two performers. In jazz, the concept of two musicians playing together called a duo, has been a fairly familiar concept and undertake by the likes of Stan Getz
and Kenny Barron
, Chick Corea
and Gary Burton
as well as pianist Bill Evans
and Tony Bennett
Trumpeter Roy Hargrove
and pianist Mulgrew Miller
have now added their names to this construct with the issuance of In Harmony
which captured these now deceased giants in a previously unreleased live recordings from 2006 and 2007. Co-produced by Zev Feldman and Larry Clothier with executive producer George Klabin, Resonance Records is offering a deluxe limited edition (7000 units) 180 gram hand-numbered 2-LP set, made available in co-operation with the Hargrove and Miller estates.
In this lip smacking thirteen composition recital, Hargrove and Miller take full advantage of those familiar melodies from the American Standards Songbook or jazz touchstones, both of which provide those in attendance with the comfort of acquaintanceship. From the very first notes of the opening track, Cole Porter's "What Is This Thing Called Love," it is apparent that Hargrove and Miller were musicians who appreciated and supported each other through their creative efforts. On the following track "This Is Always," Hargrove picks up the flugelhorn to deliver a melodically mellow sound that is seamlessly supported by Miller's sympathetic piano gradations and subtleties. Although Hargrove arrived on the jazz scene several generations removed from Clifford Brown
, he did view him as his idol and so it was not surprising that Benny Golson
's "I Remember Clifford" was included in this release. With the clarity and brightness of his tone, Hargrove offers a very sensitive ballad reading of the number, while Miller's technical skills are fully and aptly blended in offering support.
This duo effort by Hargrove and Miller was for the most part a step out of character for both musicians, as Hargrove had never recorded an album without a drummer, although Miller had done a duo effort with the Danish bassist Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen
. But duos can work, much like children playing in a schoolyard, with a give and take that does not attempt to crowd out each other. Two instances of this are Antonio Carlos Jobim
's "Triste" and the standard "Invitation." On the former, Miller opens the number by laying down a bossa nova beat, which Hargrove uses to develop some sharp punchy phrasing, that leads to some musical banter between the players at a high level of inventiveness. The latter tune sparkles along in a cheerful way with Miller developing long melodic lines indicating that each note matters as part of the flow. Hargrove demonstrates his silky flair overlaying Miller's note striking.
When the needle drops on any track in this session, listeners are treated to pristine sound restoration and the understanding that the principals did not "mail in" their performances. For example, on the Blue Mitchell
number "Fungii Mama" Miller establishes the underlying calypso beat over which Hargrove prances and dances through the melody as the audience provides enthusiastic encouragement. Finally, since Hargrove came from Texas and Miller from Mississippi, the blues and soul tradition moored their upbringing, Hargrove's own composition "Blues For Mr. Hill" is a solid reminder of these roots. Built on a twelve bar blues theme established by Miller, he puts a floor under Hargrove as he develops his ideas based on the structure of the piece. When Miller loads up for his intervention, he knows the path he wants to take with scale fragments, as well as ascending and descending chords, to arrive at his destination.
Complementing this stellar release is an excellent booklet containing rare photos, an essay by Ted Panken, along with interviews and statements from Sonny Rollins
, Christian McBride
, Ron Carter
What Is This Thing Called Love?; This Is Always; I Remember Clifford; Triste; Invitation; Con Alma; Never Let Me Go; Just in Time; Fungii Mama; Monk’s Dream; Ruby, My Dear; Blues for Mr. Hill; Ow!.