Although he seems to have lately been eclipsed by the youngsters, pianist Mulgrew Miller remains a committed player with an established identity and a versatility that has proven invaluable to his career. Of his many notable recordings during the ‘80s for various labels including Novus and Landmark, the newly-reissued WINGSPAN from 1987 is one of his finest moments. Mulgrew’s obvious talents notwithstanding, the great company that he keeps adds considerably to the success of this one, with alto man Kenny Garrett and vibist Steve Nelson among the best extant practitioners on their respective instruments.
At this point in his development, The McCoy Tyner influence was strongly felt in Mulgrew’s playing and writing. A perfect example of this is "The Eleventh Hour," a stop-and-start angular melody that gets its fires stoked by the incendiary rhythm team of Charnett Moffett and Tony Reedus. With strong writing from Miller and Garrett, the entire program has a natural ebb and flow that closely approximates a perfect club set. Two highlights have to be "Soul-Leo" with it's funky bossa groove and the lovely "Sonhos do Brasil," a light and airy samba that’s as refreshing as a cool ocean breeze.
Although nothing all that groundbreaking occurs here, the writing is strong, the ensemble blend is pleasant and engaging, and each of the main soloists (Miller, Garrett, and Nelson) puts forth a message worthy of our attention.