Posted by Jay Livingston
Mulgrew Miller died on Wednesday. He was 57 years old.
He was a giant among piano players – a large man with large hands (he could comfortably span all the major tenths). He was solidly in the bebop tradition. In his twenties he was playing with Art Blakey, and he stayed in that main stream. He recognized that bebop had become what Jenn Lena calls “a traditionalist genre,” something taught at universities, but he had little respect for avant-garde for its own sake.
A lot of people do what a friend of mine calls ‘interview music.’ You do something that’s obviously different, and you get the interviews and a certain amount of attention. . . . Guys who do what I am doing are viewed as passé.And now Mulgrew himself has passed. As I was listening to YouTube clips, I found this interview that contains a now-poignant moment. Mulgrew relates how vibraphonist Steve Nelson reminds him that our time here is finite.