Is Record Store Day still a thing? Right now I’m swimming in new releases that were released in conjunction with RSD, as we now call it, Ken Micallef has been writing about RSD releases for Jazz Files, and for these reasons I feel like there was an extra strong push this year from the RSD people to get the word out about RSD. Roy Hargrove and Mulgrew Miller’s new release on Resonance Records, In Harmony, was mixed up in that promotional rush, but listening to it in the middle of the summer for the first time is odd. This is a serious release for jazz fans, and it deserves a listen far away from all these so-called “special releases.”
Trumpeter Roy Hargrove and pianist Mulgrew Miller recorded these live sets back in 2006 and 2007, but they haven’t been released until now. This is a stellar recording of stellar performances, with these two gentlemen, both sadly gone in 2021, exploring the standards with a rare intimacy you can only find when you remove the rhythm section. That’s sort of the point of the title, In Harmony, because Hargrove and Miller engage in melodic counterpoint that tells you a lot about the way musicians absorb ideas from each other.
The idea of this music being played in front of a live audience is a wise one. The audiences at NYC’s Merkin Hall and at Lafayette College in PA almost rearranges these performances as a trio, with the intimate and appreciative sound of clapping adding to the relaxed, late night mood. These crowds are truly engaged, more than usual I think, and I like the way they were recorded in an up-close sort of way, almost the same distance from the listener as Roy Hargrove and Mulgrew Miller.
In Harmony was released on vinyl on July 17th as an RSD exclusive, but I’m not sure about this special edition’s availability as you read this. I enjoyed this double CD set, with its huge booklet and additional promotional materials, but I might even search out a vinyl copy. The sound of Roy Hargrove and Mulgrew Miller, the surprisingly soft bite of the trumpet, the flowing foundations from the keyboard, and an audience totally connected with what’s going on–it’s what great jazz is all about, and it’s probably worth having on vinyl.