On a snowy night in January 2006, the trumpeter Roy Hargrove sped from Newark Airport to Merkin Corridor, on the Higher West Aspect of Manhattan, to play a uncommon duet live performance with the esteemed pianist Mulgrew Miller. He acquired there simply in time: There was no room for a rehearsal or perhaps a correct soundcheck; they chose the set record whereas ready within the wings, simply earlier than going onstage.
The 2 had lengthy been in one another’s orbit, however they’d rarely performed alone collectively, so that they selected virtually completely requirements, the frequent tongue of the jazz custom. Their devices blended effortlessly — simply as they did practically two years later, when the musicians got here collectively once more at Lafayette Faculty in Pennsylvania, the place Miller typically taught, for one more duet.
These two performances are collected on “In Concord,” a double album from the archival jazz label Resonance Information arriving on vinyl and CD. Solely choose tracks might be out there on streaming companies.
The album is a low-key triumph, and a worthy addition to Black American music’s stock of nice trumpet-piano duet recordings, together with the well-known sides that Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines made within the Nineteen Twenties, and the underrecognized LP that Oscar Peterson recorded with Clark Terry in 1975. There’s one thing satisfying in regards to the neatness of the format — the readability of the roles, the separation of powers — that enables a trumpeter and a pianist to let free throughout the reward of construction.
Each Hargrove and Miller died lately, at ages 49 and 57, however regardless of being comparatively younger, they’d every achieved a form of hallowed-elder standing. Each had moved to New York from the South, roughly a decade aside, and so they grew to become formed by the straight-ahead jazz renaissance happening in Manhattan within the Eighties and ’90s. On the similar time, they by no means fell out of contact with the blues and gospel traditions, which that they had discovered from the within out as children.
On the opening monitor of “In Concord,” a nine-minute dash by way of Cole Porter’s “What Is This Factor Known as Love,” Miller tosses collectively bluesy rumbles, fast-break bebop and the occasional passage of stride piano. Hargrove’s well dazzling solo is laced with bebop callbacks — to Thelonious Monk’s “Rhythm-a-Ning” and Tadd Dameron’s “Sizzling Home” — but his fashion transcends: He has a buttery and elegantly coiled assault that harks to Clifford Brown, and the acuity to comply with Miller’s lead into postmodern harmonic leaps.
Hargrove grew up in Texas, quiet and reclusive, however by his midteens he had discovered his vocation and was turning into referred to as a prodigy. He moved to New York at 20, and for months he spent virtually each evening at Bradley’s, a bustling jazz hang-out in Greenwich Village with an expensive grand piano however no drum equipment. The membership was a laboratory and a proving floor, and whereas there he grew shut with numerous older musicians. Miller was certainly one of them.
Hailing from Mississippi by means of Memphis State College, Miller was a pianist who might fill any task. As his profession went on, he tended to do the assigning himself: All through the 2000s, he led a trio that hewed to an acoustic-jazz format however left loads of room for Miller’s huge palette of influences to shine — the stride of Artwork Tatum, the bebop of Bud Powell, the block chords of Erroll Garner, the soul piano of Donny Hathaway or Aretha Franklin, the gospel taking part in of James Cleveland.
He additionally took shut notes on the non-pianists he labored with. Towards the start of his profession, within the early Eighties, Miller spent three years taking part in within the band of the trumpeter Woody Shaw, who did greater than maybe every other musician of his period to develop the probabilities of concord and imbrication in trendy jazz. Miller discovered to pour these classes into his piano taking part in, and you may hear it throughout “In Concord,” together with on “Invitation,” the Bronislaw Kaper normal, when Hargrove and Miller commerce fours in a high-velocity repartee. At occasions, Miller cycles by way of harmonies round a hard and fast level, and Hargrove cuts into them at an angle, touring in leaps. In different instances, Miller improvises in chunky, rhythmic sequences of chords — no melody wanted.
Miller and Hargrove deliver the identical stage of intense focus to the ballads they play, together with Benny Golson’s “I Keep in mind Clifford” and Monk’s “Ruby My Expensive”; on most of these, Hargrove switches to the fuller-toned fluegelhorn. All through, each gamers are on the peak of their powers, and it’s arresting to listen to them up shut, in such wealthy element. It’s additionally uncommon, in immediately’s jazz era, for musicians to strategy requirements with this stage of hands-on dedication and devotion.
“In Concord” was recorded in far grander rooms than Bradley’s, earlier than much-less-roisterous audiences, however it’ll go away you musing on what an evening on the membership might need felt like: the stripped-down instrumentation; the intimacy of the change; the usual jazz repertoire, renewed by way of camaraderie and contemporary concepts.
Roy Hargrove and Mulgrew Miller“In Concord”(Resonance)