Mulgrew Miller

Live At Yoshi's, Vol. 1

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Everything falls into place very nicely on this initial volume from Mulgrew Miller's two-day gig at Yoshi's in the summer of 2003. With the strong support of bassist Derrick Hodge and drummer Karriem Riggins, Miller's volcanic virtuosity on the piano is simply stunning. Taking no prisoners with his hard bop dash through the standard "If I Were a Bell," Miller immediately afterward soothes the crowd with Donald Brown's lovely, but only occasionally dissonant, tribute "Waltz for Monk," which might sound to many listeners like more of a salute to Oscar Peterson. The pianist's sensitive side is displayed during his powerful solo introduction to Antonio Carlos Jobim's "O Grande Amor," though the bossa nova rhythm does not enter the picture until the rhythm section joins him. Woody Shaw's "The Organ Grinder" is an overlooked gem, which alternates between a romping theme and a dark vamp. But the leader really pulls all stomps with his extended exploration of what was a once neglected ballad by Duke Ellington, "Don't You Know I Care," and one could easily imagine a singer walking on to join him for his lush arrangement. The pianist's furious post-bop original "Pressing the Issue" provides a surprise ending to this outstanding live set, which benefits from outstanding engineering throughout the CD.

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