August 4, 2011— Beginning with the " Renaissance" of the 1920’s and 1930’s, spanning all the way to the present day, , and Harlem, in particular have always been the natural home of jazz music. Now pianist Mulgrew Miller and his longtime collaborator, vibist Steve Nelson, bring their music to the Smoke Jazz & Supper Club Lounge, located on the southern edge of New York’s fabled Harlem neighborhood. The show, billed as a "Birthday Celebration", will take place at Smoke on Friday and Saturday August 12th and 13th. There will be three sets each night by Miller, Nelson and their Quartet featuring Ivan Taylor (bass) & Rodney Green (drums) at 8 pm,10 pm and 11:30 pm.
Mulgrew Miller, born August 13th (hence the Birthday Celebration at Smoke), 1955 in, began his playing career as so many jazz musicians do – in church, playing gospel music – but also dabbling in blues and R&B at local dances. Jazz kept pulling Mulgrew back, however, and seeing legendary jazz pianist Oscar Peterson on television sealed the deal. Beginning his recording career with drummer Art Blakey of the renowned Jazz Messengers in 1984, Miller has 16 records in his discography as a leader. He has also gigged and recorded with singers and musicians as diverse as Betty Carter, Kenny Garrett, Joe Lovano, and Tony Williams, to name just a few. His most recent release is Solo, released on Space Time in 2010. Of Mulgrew’s playing, Time Out says, “True to his blues-tinged upbringing, he's a bop intellectual with an unabashed gift for populism. That explains both the thundering jabs in his sparkling runs and the sleekness in his writing and arranging."
Vibraphone master Steve Nelson was born in 1954 and grew up in. Nelson graduated from with both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in music and his teaching activities have included a position at . Steve has played in Dave Holland’s Quintet and Big Band for over a decade, as well as stints with Kenny Barron, David “Fathead” Newman, Bobby Watson, Jackie McLean, and, of course, Mulgrew Miller. Of his beginnings in jazz, Nelson told All About Jazz, “I would really say that from the time I was fifteen or sixteen years old I was hooked on playing jazz from then on. Before that I did everything else any other young guy would do. I listened to all the R&B stuff and everything like that, but from that moment on that was pretty much it for me.” Influenced by local vibist George , who led the younger Nelson into the music of Milt Jackson, Steve has grown into a worldwide name in jazz. His most recent CD as a leader, Sound Affect, was released in 2007.
And now Mulgrew Miller and Steve Nelson will bring all of that musical knowledge and experience to bear on Smoke Jazz & Supper Club Lounge, which has presented world-renowned jazz musicians since its inception in 1999. Co-owners Paul Stache and Frank Christopher have carried on a three decade tradition of jazz at the location, formerly the home of Augie’s Jazz Bar. Candlelit tables, plush velvet banquets, antique chandeliers and a historic full-length bar go hand in hand with the innovative American Bistro cuisine of executive chef Patricia Williams to create a genuine jazz vibe at Smoke. Serious Eats NY’s Steve Levine says of the club, “Patricia Williams has proven that great jazz and great food are not incompatible. The music and the food are truly a wonder to behold – truly a feast for the eyes, ears, and stomach.”
Smoke Jazz & Supper Club-Lounge is located at 2751 Broadway between 105th and 106th Streets. For more information, tickets, or reservations, please visit the Smoke Jazz website.
Mark Gurley, President