Arts Desk

DC Jazz Festival: What to See Tonight

Mulgrew Miller

It's always a joy to see Ron Carter, the most recorded bassist in jazz history and surely the greatest one living. That's why, anytime he plays D.C., he will always be one of my picks. But under the current circumstances, it's significant, perhaps overshadowing, that he brings his Golden Striker Trio. The original incarnation of this trio, the one that made Carter's 2002 recording The Golden Striker (hence the name), featured on piano the great Mulgrew Miller, the most influential pianist of the past 40 years bar none. (Sure, Brad Mehldau gets the big billings, but believe it—Mulgrew was the one with the real heft.) Miller passed away two weeks ago, May 29, following a massive stroke at his home in Pennsylvania.His death has been a tremendous undercurrent in the entire jazz world since then, and that includes the DC Jazz Festival, where Miller protégé Allyn Johnson has already twice given over evenings to the great pianist's music. So with the arrival of a band whose piano seat was just vacated by him...for better or for worse, even a titan like Carter can't surmount the power of that void. No matter what they play, who's onstage with him, what words are spoken, there is no way to view the Golden Striker Trio's appearance as not being in some way a tribute to Mulgrew. And maybe that's reason enough to attend.

Ron Carter's Golden Striker Trio performs at 7:30 p.m. at The Hamilton, 14th and F streets NW. $35-$45.

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