Mulgrew Miller: A Composite Portrait from His Own Words
Ted Panken has a great way of getting musicians to to think and respond and reveal themselves over the course of a long interview. This piece on Mulgrew Miller is taken from several sources over several years and gives a perfect portrait of this incredibly tasteful and inventive pianist, who is a self-effacing and supportive musician who had played with so many of the greats from Betty Carter and Woody Shaw to Art Blakey, Tony Williams and Ron Carter. He was a man of immense talent and undue modesty.
A great weekend read.
I really like the trio with Derrick Hodge and Karriem Riggins. It’s really interesting to notice how these subtle variation of time feel and influences from different generations of swing and black-American music and church come together and sound so Jazz.
This guy tho…
More post-nicki-minaj thoughts:
Is the anaconda vid empowering for women?
Yes, she is in control of her sexuality, and she will wear, do and be whoever and whenever.
On the other hand - it’s a song (if not just a beat) about having big buns with a vid that’s really all about sex (with no men, but clearly with male-dominated sex in mind) and product placement.
Is that really a good thing? Am I missing something?
Rastrophiliopustrocity is a barrage of creative random thoughts, images, and ideas that spontaneously overwhelms the right brain, which then becomes immediately exercised when paired with discernment through the left brain under spacious awareness from an empty point.
It’s summer and again we have a war in Israel and an online battle about what is Jazz.
We’ve had the NewYorker satire piece about Sonny Rollins, generating hundreds - if not thousands - of angry comments on facebook and twitter. Nicholas Payton stepped in, clarifying and pointing out some very troublesome issues of racism in it. And I’ve just read an article in the Washington Post explaining, again, why Jazz is dead in order to defend an onion-style portrayal - It was funny because it’s true. How mature.
I’ll be honest - I found some of the New Yorker funny. I’m part of a very cynical culture, in which everything is viewed in the meta, and can understand and relate to many articles like that. HOWEVER - and this is important - I am trying to dedicate my life to this music. I do take it very seriously, both because I love it and because it’s my livelihood. I do appreciate that people have paid heavily in order to play this music. And I definitely appreciate the black struggle imbued in this music and what a big role it had in establishing black pride and culture. And most important - I am playing this music. To me, it’s more alive than ever.
It was the Washington Post article that made me angry.
Usually, it takes me a while to understand why something aggravates me.
Not this time.
It made me angry because it was trying to explain, to rationalize, to defend - to say, once more, that Jazz is dead. But the writer was missing the point. Even though he graduated from an arts college, with a degree related to Jazz music I would assume, he does not understand this music. He missed everything that’s important about it. Everything that makes it great.
But the one thing I have to say to this writer is that If after a college degree I would think Jazz is “loosely defined by little more than improvisation, sunglasses and berets”, I would sue the college for gross negligence and get my money back.
The thing is, to me Jazz is about humanity, It’s about being human. It offers you the responsibility to be someone. Sonny Rollins does not sound like Coleman Hawkins. Clearly there’s an influence and Rollins comes from that musical lineage - But he took the challenge and formed a personal style. Jazz gave black musicians a way to express themselves. Of understanding, and explaining, who they are in a period where they did not have another avenue to do so. And still to this day, this is what this music asks of us musicians.
Forget about evolution or innovation - we don’t need to force that on the music and ourselves. Use this music to be a human being. To have personality and let that personality shine. Have a personal style. Be a great stylist of this music. That’s the real challenge in playing Jazz. It’s much harder coming up with one personal sentence. With a sound that really IS you. With a personal WAY of saying things, a personal phrasing.
But that’s exactly why Jazz is great. Because it demands that from the musician in real time. It’s not about having a concept. It’s not about working on 30 songs in the studio and choosing the best 12. It’s not about sitting at home, figuring out the exact sound of the 4th layer of the snare.
It’s about being all those things in real time.
That’s the real beauty.
The real Journey.
The real music.
The real art.
That’s Jazz music.