*** 1/2 Mulgrew Miller, "With Our Own Eyes," Novus. Miller's last release, with quartet, quintet and septet sessions, obscured his genius. Here, with backing from bassist Richie Goods and drummer Tony Reedus, we hear Miller's deep pianistic voice clearly, with spare accouterment, in a program of originals plus the workhorse "Body and Soul." Rich in harmonics and smart narrative, Miller renders McCoy Tyner-inspired modalisms ("Somewhere Else"), playgrounds of swing ("Small Portion"), bluesy Monkisms ("When I Get There") and sensitive ballad crooning worthy of Bill Evans ("Summer Me, Winter Me") in a strong, individual fashion. "Eyes" sees Miller--who performs Tuesday through next Sunday at Catalina Bar & Grill--at the top of his craft.
Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to four stars (excellent).