One of my favorite musicians in the world passed on May 29th. He inspired me in so many ways.
His phrasing was perfect, he had amazing melodic ideas, amazing harmonic ideas, and a great touch on the piano. He always swang so hard and was always extremely soulful. But most importantly, he was one of the most humble musicians I ever met. You felt it in his music and you felt it when you spoke with him.
I was introduced to Mulgrew Miller by the very amazing "Freddie Hubbard and Woody Shaw Sessions" that were issued on Blue Note Records in the mid 90s. This release features two CD's "The Eternal Triangle and "Double Take", which were recorded in the 80's and also feature Kenny Garrett Alto Saxophone, Ray Drummond on Bass, and Carl Allen on Drums.
When I moved to NY, I became a huge fan of Mulgrew. Every chance I got to see Mr. Miller play, I was there. One of my favorite performances was of his trio with bassist Derrick Hodge on Bass, and Karriem Riggins on Drums at the Up and Over Club, a great place I used to frequent in Brooklyn that has been closed for some years now.
I always wondered why Mulgrew Miller was so overlooked… Why he wasn’t touring the world more with his own bands, playing at all of the major jazz festivals, playing at Carnegie Hall, or praised more for being the amazing musician he was… But when I talked to him I knew that that was the last thing on his mind. He was all about the music, and love… He was always very respectful and a true gentleman. And that meant and still means so much to me. I cannot explain how much this man inspires me and continues to give me such a great sense of pride… but today I wish I actually said this to him before he left us. Thank you Mulgrew Miller! You will truly be missed and your music will live on in our hearts!
Mr. Miller has many great recordings. I recommend all of his recent trio recordings - Live at the Kennedy Center (Volume 1 and 2) & Live at Yoshi's (Volume 1 and 2) as well as his recordings Hand in Hand, The Sequel, With Our Own Eyes, Time and Again, and The Countdown.