5

Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen & Mulgrew Miller: The Duo - Live!

Chris Mosey By

Sign in to view read count
After admiring each other's playing from afar for years, Danish bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen and American pianist Mulgrew Miller got together in 1999 to record a promotional album of Duke Ellington numbers for the hi-fi company Bang & Olufsen.

They enjoyed it so much that the following year they got together again for a world tour. This included the North Sea Jazz Festival at the Hague in Holland where the nine tracks on this fine double album were recorded.

Mik Neumann, Pedersen's sound engineer, found himself in awe at "the degree of profundity in their interplay—a talent that demands years of experience. At the same time, thanks to their ability to swing, and their inbred musicality, the music was also immediately accessible.

"Not once during the tour did they sit down and discuss what they were going to play—it materialized on stage, in the moment."

The set opens with Benny Golson's lovely minor key ballad, "Whisper Not," written in just 20 minutes while Golson was playing at George Wein's Storyville club in Boston with Dizzy Gillespie's big band.

Miller's opening statement of the theme reflects his gospel background in Mississippi when his main man was Ramsey Lewis. Later, as his technique grew more formidable, Miller began listening to Oscar Peterson, then—further down the line—McCoy Tyner. These influences can all be heard in his fascinating exploration of Golson's song.

Pedersen stays out of Miller's way on this one, but comes slowly to the fore as the set progresses with Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady," actually written as a tribute to three ladies, Duke's grade school teachers in Washington. "They taught all winter and toured Europe in the summer. To me that spelled sophistication," Ellington explained.

"Mood Indigo," which follows, starts obliquely, but then gets briskly down to business, though in the process changing the original intention of the number, written by Duke and clarinetist Barney Bigard as "Dreamy Blues." The title was later changed to accomodate Irving Mills' lyric.

It's a big ask for a duo—even one of this calibre—to hold an audience's interest and their version of Jerome Kern's "All The Things You Are" tends to ramble before Billy Strayhorn's "Take The A Train" puts things back on track. It's incredible to think that Duke's son Mercer rescued Strayhorn's masterpiece from a trash can where the author had discarded it because he thought it sounded too much like a Fletcher Henderson arrangement.

CD 2 kicks off with another Jerome Kern composition, "I'm Old Fashioned," featuring a beautiful introduction by Miller, who later tries just that little bit too hard to say something new about a ballad that's been recorded by legions of pianists.

Pedersen states the theme of Ellington's "Solitude" ably underpinned by Miller, with neither man straying too far from Duke's lovely, catchy melody.

Track Listing: CD1: Whisper Not; Sophisticated Lady; Mood Indigo; All The Things You Are; Take The A Train. CD2: I’m Old Fashioned; In My Solitude; Autumn Leaves; Caravan.

Personnel: Mulgrew Miller: piano; Nils-Henning Ørsted Pedersen: bass.

Title: The Duo - Live! | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Storyville Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Déjà Vu CD/LP/Track Review Déjà Vu
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts CD/LP/Track Review Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Two in a Box CD/LP/Track Review Two in a Box
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Discussions CD/LP/Track Review Discussions
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard CD/LP/Track Review Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio CD/LP/Track Review Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 19, 2017
Read "Luisa" CD/LP/Track Review Luisa
by Doug Collette
Published: July 1, 2017
Read "Deep Memory" CD/LP/Track Review Deep Memory
by John Sharpe
Published: December 22, 2016
Read "Passin' Thru" CD/LP/Track Review Passin' Thru
by Ian Patterson
Published: July 20, 2017
Read "House Of Waters" CD/LP/Track Review House Of Waters
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 14, 2016
Read "Brain//Child" CD/LP/Track Review Brain//Child
by Geno Thackara
Published: December 24, 2016
Read "Afro-Caribbean Mixtape" CD/LP/Track Review Afro-Caribbean Mixtape
by Mark F. Turner
Published: June 27, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.