Mulgrew Miller is one of the unsung heroes of jazz. The veteran pianist, who turns fifty this month, has played in the bands of major figures like Betty Carter, Woody Shaw, Art Blakey, and Tony Williams and has more than four hundred recording credits to his name. Though respected as a dependable, first-call sideman, he's only recently been getting the attention he deserves as a leader, thanks to a series of excellent releases on the MaxJazz label. That welcome trend should continue with his latest, a followup to last year's well-regarded trio outing recorded live at Yoshi's in Oakland.
A muscular, bluesy post bop player in the McCoy Tyner mode, Miller leads his talented young rhythm section (bassist Derrick Hodge and drummer Karriem Riggins) with energy and urgency on a nicely varied 72-minute set. Highlights include a boisterous romp through Victor Feldman's "Joshua, a funky take on the standard "Comes Love, and a haunting solo piano rendition of Rodgers and Hart's "It's Easy to Remember. As a tribute to two of his late mentors, Miller offers hard-driving versions of drummer Tony Williams' "Citadel and pianist James Williams' "Road Life.
Always steady and at times dazzling, Mulgrew Miller again makes the case that he belongs in the upper echelon of mainstream jazz pianists. This is another strong effort from a compelling artist deserving wider acclaim.
Track Listing: Joshua; Comes Love; Road Life; It's Easy to Remember; One's Own Room; Little Girl Blue;
I love jazz because it swings.
I was first exposed to jazz in Houston.
I met Joe LoCascio and Bob Henschen.
The best show I ever attended was Pat Martino.
The first jazz record I bought was Time Out by the Dave Brubeck Quartet.
My advice to new listeners is to relax on 2 and 4 beats.