How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
For well over two decades, Marcus Miller has firmly established himself on the jazz/funk recording scene as funk bassist extraordinare and producer for the likes of Miles Davis, David Sanborn, and Chaka Khan. He’s also proficient on a wide variety of instruments, including bass clarinet, keyboards, saxophones, and vibraphone, and is a competent composer to boot. He’s been so in demand as a producer and performer for other people that he has recorded under his own name only sporadically.
All of his varied and considerable talents are on display on his latest release, M2 (M-squared) - also his debut for Telarc. Even with the impressive roster of accompanying talent, most of whom appear on two or three cuts in varying combinations, and despite Miller’s instrumental versatility, at no point during the program will you lose sight of the fact that this is the bassist’s date. Miller’s crisp, popping bass is always mixed prominently, front and center, handling all the heads and a fair number of the solos. The disc is full of bad-ass funky attitude, musical virtuosity, and production skill. But despite all the talent on hand, this program never quite gels into an engaging, memorable listening experience. This CD is essentially an audio resume. It could also serve as a funk bass tutorial. You’ll be impressed with the skill, but you probably won’t return often to this disc purely for the music. (Telarc 83534)
Track Listing: Power; Lonnie's Lament; Boomerang; Nikki's Groove; Goodbye Pork Pie Hat; Ozell - (interlude 1); Burning Down The House; It's Me Again; Cousin John; Ozell - (interlude 2); 3 Deuces; Red Baron; Ozell - (interlude 3); Your Amazing Grace (65:29)
Personnel: Marcus Miller - vocals, alto & tenor saxophones, B-flat & bass clarinets, vibraphone, Fender Rhodes & Wurlitzer electric pianos, organ, Clavinet, synthesizer, acoustic & electric guitars, acoustic, electric & fretless basses, programming, scratches; Raphael Saddiq, Djavan, Chaka Khan - vocals; Branford Marsalis, Wayne Shorter - soprano saxophone; Kenny Garrett, Maceo Parker - alto saxophone; James Carter - tenor saxophone; Michael "Patches" Stewart - trumpet; Fred Wesley - trombone; Hubert Laws - flute; Herbie Hancock - piano; Paul Jackson Jr. - acoustic & electric guitars, dobro; Hiram Bullock