Mulgrew Miller Tribute (April 7, 2015)

–James Tolleson (Robin’s son)

It means a lot to share this video and the interview transcript today. My dad, Robin Tolleson, passed away suddenly in June 2019 and never got to see or share this video (I thank Lee Hall in Greenwood for coming last minute to record the event). This was a passion project. He put hours of unpaid work into interviewing, writing, compiling materials, and calling people from all over to pull off this event for Mulgrew. While we have the video to share now, he primarily wanted to do this for Mulgrew’s family and other people in Greenwood to make sure they knew how much Mulgrew meant to the Jazz world.

For this project, he interviewed Tony Williams (an old interview), Wallace Roney, Donald Harrison, Donald Brown, Steve Turre, and Dr. Bill Bares. Click here to see a PDF of the Transcript of those interviews. Below is the event poster and an outline of some of the Spinterview quotes that are heard in the video.

There have been other tributes to Mulgrew Miller before and since (rightfully so), but in addition to the unique interviews done and format constructed, what made this event special was the the many family, friends, and local residents who remembered Mulgrew and shared their stories. At some point, I will create an outline of who spoke when in the Youtube video and add it to this post. For now, I’ll just mention that Mulgrew’s sisters, Arletta and Rosetta, were in attendance, as well as friend and collaborator Dr. Alphonso Sanders, his first piano teacher Albert Harrison, and some high school classmates.

Finally, this video is also more meaningful today than when it was recorded because we tragically lost trumpeter Wallace Roney, who was one of Mulgrew’s closest friends, to complications from COVID-19 on March 31, 2020. I’m grateful that we can hear him speak so joyfully of his friendship with Mulgrew in the spinterview.

Mulgrew Miller Celebration Interviews

Wallace Roney

  1. Taking Duke’s place
  2. Likeable guy
  3. Foreign Intrigue years, trying to be great
  4. McCoy argument
  5. Mulgrew’s jokes
  6. M’s first stroke
  7. I miss my friend
  8. Gift in the world
  9. “Make a good tribute”

Tony Williams

  1. Mulgrew on Foreign Intrigue
  2. The Art Blakey connection
  3. Satisfaction
  4. Touring plans…timing.

Donald Brown

  1. Not a day goes by
  2. Session – Uplifting
  3. Memphis State #1
  4. Memphis State #2 The milkshake
  5. Post-Phineas Generation
  6. Contemporary Piano Ensemble
  7. Great human being
  8. Encouraging
  9. Educator
  10. His son Keith & Mulgrew
  11. Brother Posey

Steve Turre

  1. Real Deal
  2. Elders In The Lineage
  3. Nurturing
  4. Formative Years with Mulgrew
  5. The Road with Mulgrew

Dr. Bill Bares / UNC-Asheville

  1. Mulgrew reflections

Donald Harrison

  1. Big Brother
  2. Looking Up To Him
  3. The Donald Byrd Line
  4. Mulgrew and Art
  5. School Of Fish
  6. The Rhodes
  7. Remember And Expound
  8. Who’s Country-est?
  9. Wallace’s Invention
  10. Corniest Jokes
  11. Play From The Heart
  12. Sharing with Victor Gould
  13. Songwriter
  14. Madame Chaloff
  15. Mulgrew & Kenny Kirkland



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