There's probably no better pianist working in the jazz mainstream today than Mulgrew Miller. The Mississippi native currently runs the jazz program at New Jersey's William Patterson University while maintaining a busy touring and recording schedule. Miller has come into his own as a leader in recent years after notable stints with Art Blakey, Woody Shaw and Tony Williams, among others.
This live trio recording from Washington, DC's Kennedy Center closely (perhaps too closely) follows the format of his previous two outings for the label, both live dates from Yoshi's jazz club in Oakland. But the new disc also shares the all-around excellence of the earlier efforts.
A powerhouse player who fits stylistically about halfway between McCoy Tyner and Oscar Peterson, Miller is capable of stunning virtuosity, as on the opening standard "If I Should Lose You, which begins in tranquility before Miller and his exceptional bandmates, bassist Derrick Hodge and drummer Rodney Green, shift into overdrive, creating whirlwinds of sound but remaining fully in control. A pair of fine Miller originals follow: "When I Get There, which draws on Miller's blues and gospel roots, and "From Day to Day, which highlights his more adventurous modern side.
While he's known mostly for the muscularity of his playing, Miller has a gentle touch with a ballad, which he showcases on Hoagy Carmichael's "Skylark. The set closes with an impressive breakneck run through Charlie Parker's "Relaxin' At Camarillo.
Track Listing: If I Should Lose You; When I Get There; From Day To Day; Skylark; Relaxin' At Camarillo.
I love jazz because next to my kids, it's the love of my life.
I was first exposed to jazz by Joe Rico from a tiny station in Niagara Falls in 1954 when I was 13.
The best show I ever attended was Maynard Ferguson who blew the roof off Massey Hall in the late 50s.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to everything you can and then listen again.