new release: In Harmony
“In Harmony is a master class in jazz profundity, two masters locking wits and charms, their ample gifts in full force, their skills exchanged with warmth and empathy. If there’s a better retrospective release paying tribute to jazz greats lost, I don’t know it.” - Ken Micallef
Resonance Records, the award-winning label home of acclaimed archival releases by Nat King Cole, Bob James, Charles Lloyd, Sonny Rollins, Bill Evans, Wes Montgomery and more, is thrilled to announce the release In Harmony, a stunning set of live performances by Roy Hargrove on trumpet and Mulgrew Miller on piano, available on July 17, 2021 for Record Store Day. In Harmony provides a rare glimpse of these two now departed and dearly missed greats, united in song and improvisational mastery in front of audiences at Merkin Hall in New York City (January 15, 2006) and Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania (November 9, 2007).
Co-produced by Zev Feldman and Larry Clothier with executive producer, George Klabin, In Harmony is the first posthumous Hargrove release since the trumpeter’s untimely passing on November 2, 2018 at age 49. Aida Brandes-Hargrove, President of Roy Hargrove Legacy, said: “Roy’s daughter Kamala and I are excited to collaborate with Resonance and to get this great new album out to Roy’s many fans.”
Miller passed away on May 29, 2013 at age 57. With In Harmony, we are back in the musical company of these two greats for a short but precious time. And though the settings heard here were ticketed concerts, the vibe unfolds exactly as it might have back in the day at Bradley’s, when Hargrove was first coming up in the late ’80s and Miller loomed large from his associations with Art Blakey, Tony Williams and others. Acclaimed jazz journalist Ted Panken, in his extensive booklet essay for In Harmony, evokes that scene, and its central importance to Hargrove’s development, in vivid detail.
Hargrove told Panken, “Bradley’s was like going to school. It was like your masters. You go in there, and you’re playing, and there’s Freddie Hubbard at the bar! What do you do? Everything I’m playing right now I owe to that whole scene.”
Hargrove hailed from Texas, Miller from Mississippi. Each of them drank deep from the Black music traditions of their respective regions, absorbing lessons from family, the church, and blues and soul artists long before they became immersed in the language of their jazz forebears. In Harmony finds the two alluding to those great jazz legacies in many ways, from song choices to improvisational flourishes to off-the-cuff yet impeccably placed arranging details.
We hear Hargrove calling out to Clifford Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, Blue Mitchell, and more. Yet he plays from the perspective of a prescient bandleader who burst through genre boundaries collaborating with leading lights of hip-hop, neo-soul and Afro-Cuban music, laying the groundwork for such next-generation trumpeters as Keyon Harrold and Theo Croker (both of whom are quoted in the booklet as well).
Miller, as Panken observes, had his own “fluid personal argot,” even as he drew on influences from Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett to Woody Shaw. “His concept drew on piano-as-orchestra signposts like Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Ahmad Jamal and Erroll Garner, the ‘blowing piano’ of Bud Powell, the disjunctive syncopations and voicings of Thelonious Monk, and the melodic ingenuity of gurus like Hank Jones, Tommy Flanagan and Cedar Walton,” Panken adds.
It’s all there, in the bright tempos of “What Is This Thing Called Love” and “Invitation,” the majestic balladry of “I Remember Clifford” and “Never Let Me Go,” or the funk of “Fungii Mama,” where one can practically hear Al Foster’s signature drum groove from the Blue Mitchell original. Which brings us to another key Panken observation: In Harmony is the only recording in Hargrove’s entire discography not to feature a drummer. Miller, for his part, has one solo album and a scant few duos in his catalog, making In Harmony an even more significant addition to the historical record.
“From the very first time I heard these recordings, I was immediately taken by the sheer virtuosity of these two masters’ ability to mesh with each other,” says Resonance Records Co-President and Co-Producer of In Harmony Zev Feldman. “They’re playing their hearts out. I personally find these to be some of the most daring and beautiful interpretations of classic jazz repertoire I’ve heard. It’s an honor for Resonance to be able to collaborate with the families of Roy Hargrove and Mulgrew Miller to bring this music to their many fans, and we thank them for the opportunity.”
“Throughout, both players are at the height of their powers, and it’s arresting to hear them up close, in such rich detail. It’s also rare, in today’s jazz generation, for musicians to approach standards with this level of hands-on commitment and devotion.” - Giovanni Russonello