Jazz pianist Mulgrew Miller dies at age 57

June 2, 2013 at 11:22 AM

ALLENTOWN, Pa., June 2 (UPI) -- Mulgrew Miller, a jazz pianist who got his start with the Duke Ellington Orchestra, died in Allentown, Pa., his record label officials said. He was 57.

Miller died Wednesday from complications from a stroke, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

The pianist had been the director of jazz studies at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J., since 2006, and was perhaps best known for his live performances, the newspaper said.

He presented the inaugural performances at the Kennedy Center's KC Jazz Club in Washington and was in "terrific form" that night, said Washington Post critic Mike Joyce.

Miller was "often seeking and discovering fresh ways to interpret a familiar ballad or bop tune," Joyce said.

He appeared on at least 500 recordings as a bandleader or sideman, working extensively with singer Betty Carter, trumpeter Woody Shaw and drummer Tony Williams, the newspaper said.

"I played with some of the greatest swinging people who ever played jazz," Miller told DownBeat magazine in 2005, "and I want to get the quality of feeling I heard with them."

Miller is survived by his wife of 30 years, Tanya Miller, two children, six siblings and a grandson, the Post reported.

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