The Great Couple of Roy Hargrove and Mulgrave Miller

On a snowy evening in January 2006, Trumpet Roy Hargrove From Newark Airport to Merkin Hall on Manhattan’s Upper West Side to Play a Rare Duet Concert Venerable Pianist Mulgrew Miller. He got there on time: there was no room for rehearsals or a proper sound check; He selected the set list while waiting in the wings, just before going on stage.

The two had been in each other’s class for a long time, but they rarely played alone together, so they chose standards almost entirely, the common language of the jazz tradition. His instruments blended effortlessly—just as he did about two years later, when the musician returned to Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, where Miller occasionally taught, for another duet.

Those two performances are collected on “In Harmony”, a double album coming out on vinyl and CD from the archival jazz label Resonance Records. In college choose track Available on streaming services.

The album is a low-key victory, and a worthy addition to Black American music’s list of great trumpet-piano duet recordings, which include famous party Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines in the 1920s, and less recognized LP Oscar Peterson recorded with Clark Terry in 1975. There’s something satisfying about the clarity of format—the clarity of roles, the separation of powers—that allows a trumpeter and a pianist to loosen up within the gift of structure.

In recent years, both Hargrove and Miller died at the age of 49 and 57, but despite being relatively young, they achieved a kind of holy-elderly status. The two had moved from the South to New York by a gap of nearly a decade, and were shaped by the straight-forward jazz renaissance that was underway in Manhattan in the 1980s and ’90s. At the same time, he was never out of touch with the blues and gospel traditions he had learned from the inside out as a youth.

On the opening tracks of “In Harmony” through Cole Porter’s “What Is This Thing Called Love,” Miller tosses together the occasional passage of bluesy rumbles, fast-break bebop and strided piano. Hargrove’s clever dazzling singles are laced with bebop callbacks—to Thelonious Monk’s “Rhythm-a-Ning” and Tad Dameron’s “Hot House”—yet his style goes further: he has a buttery and elegant look. There is a coiled attack that damages Clifford Brown and Acuity. To follow Miller’s lead in postmodern harmonic leaps.

Hargrove grew up in Texas, quiet and secluded, but in his teens he found his vocation and became known as a prodigy. He moved to New York when he was 20, and for months he spent almost every night at Bradley, a bustling jazz haunt in Greenwich Village with a stunning grand piano but no drum kit. The club was a laboratory and a proving ground, and while there he became close with various old musicians. Miller was one of them.

Hailing from Mississippi through Memphis State University, Miller was a pianist who could fill any assignment. As his career progressed, he took on assignments on his own: during the 2000s, he led a trio which devised an acoustic-jazz format, but left plenty of room for Miller’s vast palette of influences to shine – Art Tatum’s stride, Bud Powell’s bebop, Errol Garner’s block chords, Donnie Hathaway’s or Aretha Franklin’s soul piano. , Gospel recital of James Cleveland.

He also paid close attention to the non-pianists he worked with. Early in his career, in the early 1980s, Miller spent three years playing in the band of trumpeter Woody Shaw, who sought to expand the possibilities of harmonization and embracing in modern jazz more than any other musician of his era. I did more. Miller learned to put those lessons into his piano playing, and you can hear it in “In Harmony”, which includes “The Invitation”, Bronisaw Kapper Standard, When Hargrove and Miller business squares in a high-velocity repartee. Occasionally, Miller cycles through harmonies around a certain point, and Hargrove cuts them at an angle, traveling in leaps. In other cases, Miller improvises in chunky, rhythmic sequences of chords—no melody needed.

Miller and Hargrove bring a similar level of intense attention to the ballads they play, including Benny Golson’s “I Remember Clifford” and Monk’s “Ruby My Dear”; On most of them, Hargrove switches to the fuller-toned flugelhorn. Meanwhile, both players are at the height of their powers, and listening closely to them in such rich detail is arresting. It is also rare, in today’s jazz generation, for musicians to reach standards with this level of practical commitment and devotion.

“In Harmony” was recorded in rooms far more opulent than Bradley’s before, much to lower-roster audiences, but it’ll leave you obsessing over what a night at the club might have felt like: Strip- down instrumentation; intimacy of exchange; Renewed through standard jazz repertoire, camaraderie and fresh ideas.

Roy Hargrove and Mulgrave Miller “In Harmony” (Resonance)

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