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Pianist Mulgrew Miller Dead at 57

Death follows a major stroke last week

Mulgrew Miller
Mulgrew Miller

Mulgrew Miller, a pianist renowned for his power and precision in straight-ahead settings, died May 29 in Allentown, Pa. His death was confirmed by a representative at Maxjazz, the record label that released his music throughout the 2000s. Miller had suffered a stroke a week earlier and had been hospitalized. He was 57.

Miller was born Aug. 13, 1955, in Greenwood, Miss. He began playing piano at age 6, was performing by 10 and by high school was working in a local jazz trio, playing R&B music at dances and gospel at church. Influenced above all by Oscar Peterson (and later by McCoy Tyner), he vowed to become a skilled pianist. “I was blown away,” Miller was quoted as saying in an online bio for Maxjazz, referring to the first time he heard a Peterson recording. “It was a life-changing event. I knew right then that I would be a jazz pianist.” The bio further states that Miller chose what he called “the easy-does-it approach” at age 15, meaning not that he would settle into a relaxed style but rather that he would “focus on careful attention to craft, impeccable choices in the musicians to surround himself with, and a balanced life that included a stable home and vegetarian lifestyle.”

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