Mulgrew Miller Trio | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Mulgrew Miller Trio 

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Mulgrew Miller is the quintessential mainstream jazz pianist, a musician of peerless technique and focus with a well-suppressed ego. He's no innovator but rather a deft assimilator who's forged a beguiling composite style over decades of hard-bop piano playing. A sideman for greats including Woody Shaw, Art Blakey, Betty Carter, and Tony Williams, Miller has appeared on more than 400 albums, a walloping testament to his flexibility and good taste. As demonstrated on last year's Live at Yoshi's Volume One (Maxjazz), his own groups thrive within jazz's most fundamental framework--usually you get a solo intro, a theme statement, a round of solos, then a restatement to wind down--but they deliver each element with subtle twists. On up-tempo numbers Miller plays with bracing clarity and rhythmic precision, peppering his solos with speedy runs, dissonant accents, and propulsive block chording that's often rendered with a blues-gospel feel that sounds as natural as breathing. He's also a wonderful balladeer, unafraid to break up his fluid lyricism with appealingly sour stabs of harmony. He appears here with bassist Richie Goods and drummer Rodney Greene. See also Wednesday and Thursday; the trio's run continues through Sunday. Tue 4/12, 8 and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand, 312-670-2473, $20.

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