Jazz musicians and fans have been sending out their thoughts and prayers via Facebook and Twitter following the news that pianist Mulgrew Miller suffered a serious stroke yesterday. Details are somewhat limited but it is reported that Miller is currently in intensive care.
Miller, who has been called a protege of Oscar Peterson, suffered a stroke back in 2011 and made a full recovery. Musicians such as Terence Blanchard, Geoff Keezer, and Charlie Haden have been sending out well-wishes on Twitter.
We Four and Sonando was an inspired Earshot pairing Saturday at Town Hall. The concert was a tribute to two “restless geniuses” of jazz in one night.
Fred Hoadley’s long-lived and popular Latin Jazz group Sonando opened the show. In his introduction, Earshot director John Gilbreath praised Hoadley for his dedication and commitment to the project at hand, re-working music by Charles Mingus for Afro-Cuban rhythms.
It truly was a tall order: to take the dense, multi-layered and often complicated compositions of Mingus and add yet another facet to them is not a task that many musicians would seek out.
Sonando’s treatments of Pithecanthropus Erectus, Self Portrait in Three Colors and particularly Nostalgia in Times Square served to show the Mingus genius in a slightly different light. Hoadley’s arrangements, especially that of Meditations on Integration also seemed to bring forward the composer’s reverence for Duke Ellington. A highlight was the seldom-heard The I of Hurricane Sue featuring the three percussionists each on a different size of Batá drum.
All well done and well received by the audience, Hoadley and Sonando gave a spirited performance. They can be heard every third Thursday at Tula’s in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood.
We Four: Javon Jackson
We Four, the John Coltrane tribute quartet, is fronted by saxophonist Javon Jackson, whose many credits include graduation from Art Blakey’s “Hard Bop Academy,” the Jazz Messengers. Jackson has also taken part in tribute performances to Freddie Hubbard and Dexter Gordon, and has recently convinced the great soul-jazz keyboardist and composer Les McCann to come out of retirement and do some touring.
Jackson was only half-joking when he said from the stage last night, “John Coltrane is the only man I dream about.”
In his stance, his attack and often in his sound, Jackson had moments when he did manage to channel the most mythological saxophonist of the modern jazz pantheon.
We Four: bassist and pianist
Bassist Nat Reeves, alternately burning up the strings and producing warm, round tones à la Paul Chambers throughout the performance was a delight to hear.
When pianist Mulgrew Miller explores a melody, you’ll hear things you’d never find on your own. His delicate solo on Naima was haunting, and the encore, Green Dolphin Street, truly became his own.
We Four: The star
The star of the evening, of course, was drummer Jimmy Cobb.
A NEA Jazz Master and the last remaining member of Miles Davis’s Kind Of Blue band, Cobb was a friend to John Coltrane and worked with him in various settings. Cobb propelled the band through an incredibly up-tempo Impressions, seemingly without breaking a sweat. His solo on Mr. PC brought the audience to their feet. Oh, and did I mention that Mr. Cobb is 82 years old?
A local drummer seated near me was heard to exclaim, “He’s 82?! There’s hope …”
Yes, there’s hope. Thank you, Earshot Jazz, for bringing us hope.