Saturday, September 11, 2010
This week, we're featuring video clips of pianists Mulgrew Miller and Kenny Barron , who are coming to St. Louis for a series of duo performances starting Wednesday, September 22 and continuing through Saturday, September 25 at Jazz at the Bistro.
Both men are considered among the top pianists in mainstream jazz, and both got their big break from a jazz legend. Miller, 55, first came to wide public attention in the mid-1980s while working with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. He's gone on to perform with many other well-known jazz musicians, including legends such as Betty Carter, Freddie Hubbard, Tony Williams and Ron Carter, as well as younger musicians including Terell Stafford, Nicholas Payton, Wallace Roney and Cassandra Wilson. Miller also has recorded a number of albums as a leader, with his most recent releases handled by the St. Louis based MAXJAZZ label.
Barron, who's 67, first became known in the 1960s as a member of Dizzy Gillespie's group. He's also worked with Hubbard and Ron Carter, as well as with Stanley Turrentine, Milt Jackson, Buddy Rich, Yusef Lateef, Stan Getz, and many others. Barron was a founder of the group Sphere, dedicated to the music of Thelonious Monk, and earlier this year, the National Endowment for the Arts named him a Jazz Master, the highest honor a jazz musician can receive from the US government.
The Barron/Miller duo is a relatively new combination, put together for gigs this summer and fall, so, sadly, there seems to be no video footage available online of the two men performing together. But we do have four performances - two for each man - that should serve to whet your appetite.
Up top, you can see and hear Miller's trio with bassist Ira Coleman and drummer Mark Johnson perform the standard "I Hear a Rhapsody," while down below, Miller does a solo turn on what I'm fairly sure is "Night And Day."
In the third slot, Barron plays a discursive solo medley, incorporating bits of a number of tunes including Monk's "Well, You Needn't," to promote an appearance this past July at the Paris jazz club Duc des Lombards. Below that, there a clip from 2008 of Barron's trio performing "Ask Me Now" at a festival in Italy. Kiyoshi Kitagawa is on bass and Francisco Mela is the drummer.
For more about Miller check out this interview from the Detroit Free Press, done last month as Miller served as artist in residence for the Detroit Jazz Festival, and this review of a trio show in Chicago, also from last month. For more on Barron, see this interview, or listen to his performance on an episode of NPR's "Jazz Set" program.
(Edited 9/14/10 to fix typos.)