Selected by a New York Times poll as one of the "most in-demand" pianist in jazz, modern master Mulgrew Miller was the natural choice to inaugurate the opening of the KC Jazz Club at the prestigious John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in the fall of 2002. On the evening of September 5th the Mulgrew Miller Trio, with band mates, bassist Derrick Hodge and drummer Rodney Green, took to the stage and delivered an audacious performance recording enough material for two albums.
This album represents the second half of that magical evening where Miller and crew lay down some hard-driving grooves and light classical ballads. Volume two picks up where Volume one leaves off playing mid to up-tempo tunes with the same energy and intensity.
While there are only five tracks on this disc, they range from nine to sixteen minutes in length each giving the album a respectable sixty-four minutes of playing time. With the exception of the Dedette Lee Hill/Willard Robison standard "Old Folks," Miller performs four of his own compositions starting with "Song For Darnell," written for his son. A number where the leader delivers an electric performance in conjunction with a stylish solo from Hodge. "Grew’s Tune," follows in swinging fashion containing a key pounding statement by the pianist.
Miller slows the pace down on "Farewell To Dogma," providing plenty of space for solo journeys from the pianist and bassist alike in a tune that sounds a bit soulful. On the lengthiest track here, Miller takes center stage soloing in the first five minutes of the blues-shaded finale "Eleventh Hour," ending in a blazing style with appreciable input from Hodge and Green.
No question about it Live at The Kennedy Center Volume Two captures a riveting and exciting live performance by a piano virtuoso with an innovative style all his own. Mulgrew Miller demonstrates in convincing fashion why he is one of the "most in-demand" jazz pianists around and Volume Two confirms this regard.