Mulgrew Miller to Appear with Julliard Jazz Ensemble in celebration of MLK Day

Pianist to perform “Blues in the Church” program on Monday, January 18 at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola

Mulgrew Miller
Mulgrew Miller

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Pianist Mulgrew Miller will be joining with the Julliard Jazz Ensemble for a special performance of “Blues in the Church,” a program of spirituals, hymns and blues, presented in a celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. The performance takes place on Monday, January 18, 2010 at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola in NYC. Performing in the Juilliard Jazz Ensemble will be Jordan Pettay (alto saxophone), Randall Haywood (trumpet), Willie Applewhite (trombone), Kris Bowers (piano), Philip Kuehn (bass), and Bryan Carter (drums)., all of whom are students in the relatively new jazz program at Julliard School of Music.

Miller organized this particular program by drawing on his own experiences growing up in Mississippi and hearing music in his own neighborhood church. In his notes for the concert, Miller explained his deeply rooted connection to the piece and its music. “I started playing in church by ear at age eight. My family belonged to the Methodist Church. I knew many of the hymns by ear before taking piano lessons. While growing up, I heard the many styles of religious music as I was required to play in a variety of denominational settings. I heard piano styles that sounded like stride, boogie, even accomplished classically-trained keyboardists. One thread that seemed to run through these styles was the inflection of the blues. In fact, the blues were a big part of the total musical fabric in the Mississippi Delta.

“To this day, I remain a big lover of hymns. Their melodies are memorable and when sung or played in the African-American folk feeling we call the blues, they seem to seep into the depths of one’s soul. The blues as a form is an American invention. But the blues as a feeling comes from Africa. I’ve heard it in archival recordings of tribal rituals and chants. I’ve long disagreed with the long held belief that the blues were simply about suffering, being ‘down and out.’ The blues is about surviving suffering: longing, that chronic, insatiable and intrinsic longing of the soul for its Maker. Somehow, love is in the midst of it. The marriage of religious music to the blues has made for an expression of powerful cultural significance.”

Here is the list of songs that will be performed during the program:

1. “We Come This Far by Faith”

2. “Wade in the Water”

3. “Great is Thy Faithfulness”

4. “This Little Light of Mine”

5. “Shine on Me”

6. “I Shall Not Be Moved”

7. “Lord Revive Us”

8. “I’m Looking for a Miracle”

9. “Farther Along”

10. “That’s Heaven to Me”

11. “Lord Help Me to Hold Out”

12. “Peace Be Still”

13. “We Shall Overcome”

14. “He Laid His Hands on Me”

15. “When the Saints Go Marching In”

Shows at are 7:30pm and 9:30pm. Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola is located at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Broadway and 60th Street, 5th Floor. The cover charge is $20; $10 for students with a valid student ID. For more information, call Jazz at Lincoln Center at (212) 258-9595 or go to their web site.