How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
For his first studio album since 1964, Marcus Miller has laid out a program of nine originals and five jazz standards. Seeking to be the new Rahaan Roland Kirk, Miller plays a large number of instruments. I guess he plays them well because it's difficult to single out any through the electronic sheets of sounds being thrown at the listener. The album is promoted as having equal portions of jazz, funk and soul thus offering something for everyone. The fact is that the dominant genre is fusion or, if you will, crossover jazz with electronics the fuel that drives it all. With this you get the headache maker, drum programming. It's hard to understand why any jazz musician, especially someone the magnitude of Marcus Miller, believes that to deliver his message there's a need for the unchanging, repetitive patterns of drum programming. It's here along with the record scratching gimmick used by rappers. Rather than helping to create a discernible mood or the message, they music is simply boring and eventually becomes annoying.
Don't look for much relief from the instrumental caterwauling. Some comes with "Your Amazing Grace," a variation on the traditional gospel tune "Amazing Grace," with Chaka Khan showing up to do a modern vocal rendition. Miller takes compositional credit for this tune, I suppose on the basis of value added. But even a classic such as John Coltrane's "Lonnie's Lament" is distorted by the presence of the insidious drums and synthesizers. No relief there.
This album was recorded in California luckily before the power blackouts. Otherwise, they may still be in the studio waiting for the electricity to return. What a waste of talent like Kenny Garrett, Branford Marsalis and Wayne Shorter. This is not a thinking person's album by any means.
Track Listing: Power; Lonnie's Lament; Boomerang; Nikki's Groove; Goodbye Pork Pie Hat; Ozell; Burning down the House; It's Me Again; Cousin John; Ozell; 3 Deuces; Red Baron; Ozell; Your Amazing Grace.
Personnel: Marcus Miller: bass guitar, acoustic bass, guitar, B-flat and bass clarinet, alto and tenor saxophone, drum programming, synths, piano, organ, Fender Rhodes, clavinet, vocoder, vocals; Michael "Patches" Stewart: trumpet; Fred Wesley: trombone; Kenny Garrett: Maceo Parker: alto saxophone; Wayne Shorter: soprano saxophone; Branford Marsalis: soprano saxophone; James Carter: tenor saxophone; Hubert Laws: flute; Herbie Hancock: piano; Bernard Wright: Fender Rhodes, organ; Paul Jackson: acoustic guitar; Hiram Bullock: acoustic guitar; Leroy "Scooter" Ralor: bass synth; Vinnie Colaiuta: drums; Poogie Bell: drums; Lenny White: brush fills; Mino Cinelu: percussion; David Isaac: cowbell, triangle, water EFX, percussion programming; Larry Corbett: cello; Matthew Funes: viola; Joel Derouin: violin; Chaka Khan: vocals; Djavan: vocals.