May 28, 2013
The great pianist Mulgrew Miller has died at the age of 57. Miller had suffered a stroke late last week, and had been hospitalized since then.
Miller was one of a handful of pianists born just after the be-bop period that carried the torch of the likes of Bud Powell and Oscar Peterson, maintaining his acoustic chops through the electric era. His ability to play wonderful chamber-like sounds endeared him to players like Ron Carter, Joe Lovano and Russell Malone, but he was also capable of swinging with the best of them, and spent time with big bands, Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and a wonderful band headed by Woody Shaw and Freddie Hubbard in the early '80s.
Most of today's finest trumpet plauers and saxophonists - from Lovano, Kenny Garrett and Myron Walden to Terrell Stafford, Wallace Roney, and Nicholas Payton tapped him for the piano chair in their bands. His influence can be felt in the playing and perspective of two of today's finest pianists, Robert Glasper and Geoffrey Keezer.
Miller was an educator as well as player; he was Director of Jazz Studies at William Paterson University and the Artist in Residence at Lafayette College, where he recieved an Honory Doctor of Performing Arts degree.
Click here to listen to Mulgrew in his favorite setting, the piano trio, from his 2005 CD Live at Yoshi's Volume II . He is backed by Derrick Hodge on bass and Kariem Riggins on drums, with whom he recorded four albums.