Roy Hargrove & Mulgrew Miller – In Harmony – Resonance

by | Jul 11, 2021 | Jazz CD Reviews, SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Hargrove and Miller – Two jazz greats taken from us way too soon…

Roy Hargrove & Mulgrew Miller – In Harmony – Resonance HLP 9060 –Two audiophile 180 gm vinyls – 2006/ 2007- ****

(Roy Hargrove – trumpet & flugelhorn ; Mulgrew Miller – piano)

Just in time for the upcoming July, 2021 Record Store Day, boutique jazz label, Resonance Records is issuing two previously unreleased live duo recordings from trumpeter, Roy Hargrove and pianist, Mulgrew Miller. Recorded in January, 2006, at Merkin Hall in Manhattan; and in November, 2007, at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. (Mulgrew Miller’s home town) this issue shows the improvisational talents of two jazz greats whom we lost much too early. Both passed from illnesses well before their 60thbirthdays.

These recordings were made directly from concert soundboards by Larry Clothier, Hargrove’s manager, and issued with full permission from the artists’ estates. Mastered by Bernie Grundman, and pressed by RTI on 180 gm vinyl, the acoustics are pristine, and highlight the strengths of each instrumentalist.

Roy Hargrove began to light up the jazz world before the age of 21, while Mulgrew Miller inspired younger pianists for years, making a name for himself as an accompanist for jazz legends ranging from Betty Carter, Woody Shaw, Benny Golson, Bobby Hutcherson and James Moody. Mulgrew grew up playing in church settings, and his blues based talents fit right in with Roy Hargrove’s warm trumpet timbre.

These two men were so in tune with each other that no rehearsal was needed, and the Merkin Hall gig had no sound check, with the tunes chosen on the spot. Consisting of all standards, with the exception of Hargrove’s original, a dynamite “Blues for Mr. Hill,” the duo could concentrate on pure improvisational readings of well known tunes.

Roy often takes lead, with Mulgrew, the consummate sympathetic accompanist, providing the foundation for Hargrove to state the theme and improvise over the changes. Miller gets plenty of solo space, and his sparkling choruses seem effortless. At times, however, he digs in, in double time fashion

rising in intensity, which inspires Hargrove to even get more passionate. The ballads are gentle, tasty, and bring on a true taste of contentment. They trade choruses with ease, seeming to mind-read their partner’s intent.

Highlights are many. Here are a few:

On “I Remember Clifford,” Roy channels the legendary Clifford Brown, who in much less than a decade (he passed in his 20s), has had a dramatic effect on future trumpeters for nearly eighty years.

In interviews included in the historical value liner note booklet with this set, numerous living jazz stars

compare the young Hargrove to Clifford.

“Triste” is playful, and a strong feature for Mulgrew as he “dances” over the piano keys. “Never Let Me Go” is a sumptuous ballad with Hargrove’s burnished trumpet and Mulgrew’s gentle, inspiring choruses, that brought to mind for me, Hank Jones.

Two other memorable tracks were Blue Mitchell’s “Fungii Mama,” a hard bop swinger with a Caribbean lilt. Both players up the ante with emotional solos. Roy’s “Blues for Mr. Hill” was my favorite, a down and dirty blues. It only needed a blues guitarist to approach perfection.

Finally, Roy and Mulgrew give a unique reading to “Monk’s Dream” with Miller’s swing choruses, and a blistering solo by Hargrove.

The liner booklet has an essay by Ted Panken, as well as a plethora of written interviews from Sonny Rollins, Christian McBride, Ron Carter, Jon Batiste, and many others, singing the praises of our departed duo. Both Roy and Mulgrew are deeply missed. This two vinyl release celebrates their talents…

Side A:
What is This Thing Called Love?
This is Always
I Remember Clifford

Side B:
Con Alma

Side C:
Never Let Me Go
Just in Time
Fungii Mama

Side D:
Monk’s Dream
Ruby, My Dear
Blues For Mr. Hill
Ow! (Encore)

—Jeff Krow

For more information on this and other releases, please visit Record Store Day vendors:

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In Harmony - Hargrove and Miller, Album Cover

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