My heart is very heavy today as I learned of the passing of the incomparable Mulgrew Miller.
Mulgrew, quite simply, was one of the best. I grew up being a fan of his music but it wasn't until I was 15 years old that I had the opportunity to meet him for the first time. He was truly one of the kindest people I have ever met in my life. Extremely honest, funny, and true, Mulgrew always seemed to put others before him. The few times that I had the chance to meet him are some of the most memorable moments in my life.
This tight-knit jazz community knows how talented Mulgrew is. I have yet to meet a pianist (or musician for that matter) that has not listed him as one of their major influences. I was introduced to his music by my father. He spoke often about how beautiful Mulgrew's playing is and how he is "one of the good ones." I can only hope that going forward the new generations will continue to be influenced by Mulgrew's music and will be told stories about his personality and character that will inspire these young players to be the best musician and human being that they can be. No matter what field we are in, Mulgrew Miller is someone who's book we could all take a page from.
Recently Mulgrew was playing a show in a city close to where I live. My Mother and I got tickets to see him and I was extremely excited. Due to a back injury I was unable to go. I now sit here wishing I could turn back time and force myself to go to that show. This is of course one of those things that happens in life and you just have to live with it. I will continuously remember that I have been fortunate enough to see him when I did and my fond memories of these encounters will stay with me forever
If there is one thing I have learned growing up around members of the jazz community, it is that the musicians in this particular part of the music industry are truly like a family. At times, a dysfunctional one but a family nonetheless. When there are hard times people really come together to support each other. This special kind of hospitality is not limited to just within the musicians, but it is extended to the musician's family and friends. If there is one thing I can hope for through all of this it is that his wife Tanya and their family are greeted with all the love and support that they can possibly get during this devastating time. My musical family has always had a stronger bond with me than a lot of my blood family and I know that without the support of certain people around me, life would be a lot more complicated and I would be in a very different place. I truly hope that through all the support and love that Mulgrew's family will take even a small bit of comfort in knowing that they are not and will never be alone.
Dear Mulgrew, thank you for the gift of your music, your spirit, and your overwhelming kindness and generosity towards every single person that you met. You have left a mark on this earth that will only grow bigger with time. We all love you.