Marcus Miller: A Night in Monte Carlo

Chuck Koton By

Sign in to view read count
Marcus Miller: A Night in Monte Carlo It's been more than four years since James Brown, the "hardest working man in show business," departed this Earth for an ethereal stage, time enough to anoint a successor. Bassist Marcus Miller deserves consideration—a tribute that would, no doubt, put a smile on the face of the Godfather of Soul. After all, a typical year for the virtuosic bassist includes months of global touring (he just returned from a tour that took him to five continents, featuring his unforgettable '80s Warner Bros. collaborations with trumpeter Miles Davis, 1985's Tutu and 1989's Amandla); recording with his own band or with SMV - Stanley, Marcus, Victor, the monster bass triumvirate; and work with countless others as an in-demand sideman, producing CDs, conducting orchestras—and, of course, being the featured husband and father of the Miller clan.

Live in Monte Carlo, offers incontrovertibly funky and swingin' evidence of Miller's broad and prodigious musical skills. The CD—out in early 2011 in the U.S. after an earlier and successful European release—finds Miller and his working band joined by several illustrious guests, including Herbie Hancock, Roy Hargrove and the Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra.

The recording opens with "Blast," a Grammy-nominated Miller composition, previously heard on his highly acclaimed Marcus (Concord, 2008). After a swinging, finger snappin' sitar-like Hindu rhythm, performed by keyboardist Federico Pena, Miller's electric bass seriously funks things up enough to hip even the squarest listener. Youthful alto sax phenom, Alex Han, blows a fiery solo, and Miller's arrangement, with the orchestra playing in unison against the soloists, maximizes the power of his riff.

Purists may cringe, but Miller's modern, funk-infused arrangement of the jazz standard, "So What"—not to mention his use of turntablist DJ Logic's scratching, would indubitably please the bassist's former employer, Miles Davis. In spite of contemporary critics' harsh reactions to Davis' electronic rock adventures back in the day, the "man with the horn" often made crystalline clear his artistic compulsion to keep his music fresh and new. Miller also eloquently covers another tune famously recorded by Davis, George Gershwin and Ira Gershwins "I Loves You, Porgy," his soulful bass crying out the pain of lost love.

Trumpet master Roy Hargrove blows a love-inspiring version of the standard, "I'm Glad There Is You," with enough tenderness and romance to make lovers out of strangers. Miller blows a soul-penetrating bass clarinet, in poignant duet with piano master Herbie Hancock, on Billie Holiday's iconic "Strange Fruit." Their sensitive, sonic collaboration not only conjures up images of African-American suffering in the Jim Crow South, but of all human suffering.

For this live recording, Miller put in some hard work playing, composing and arranging the music—even conducting the Monte Carlo Orchestra. Truly a swinging, hard-working and funky renaissance family man.

Track Listing: Blast!; So What; State of Mind; I Loves You Porgy; Amandla; I'm Glad There Is You;O Mio Bambino/Mas Que Nada; Your Amazing Grace; Strange Fruit.

Personnel: Marcus Miller: bass, bass clarinet; Roy Hargrove: trumpet; Raul Midon: vocals, guitar; Alex Han: alto saxophone; DJ Logic: turntables; Federico Gonzalez Pena: piano, keyboards, percussion; Poogie Bell: drums; Herbie Hancock: piano (9); Orchestre Philharmonic De Monte-Carlo.

Title: A Night in Monte Carlo | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Dreyfus Records


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read BACHanalia CD/LP/Track Review BACHanalia
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Hallways CD/LP/Track Review Hallways
by Paul Rauch
Published: June 24, 2017
Read The Crave CD/LP/Track Review The Crave
by John Sharpe
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Chase The Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk, and Dub) CD/LP/Track Review Chase The Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk, and Dub)
by Joe Gatto
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Kickin' Child - The Lost Album 1965 CD/LP/Track Review Kickin' Child - The Lost Album 1965
by Doug Collette
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Towards Language CD/LP/Track Review Towards Language
by John Eyles
Published: June 23, 2017
Read "Of the Tree" CD/LP/Track Review Of the Tree
by Dave Wayne
Published: October 9, 2016
Read "Traffic" CD/LP/Track Review Traffic
by Dave Wayne
Published: September 8, 2016
Read "Allied Forces" CD/LP/Track Review Allied Forces
by David A. Orthmann
Published: November 13, 2016
Read "Michael Shrieve's Spellbinder" CD/LP/Track Review Michael Shrieve's Spellbinder
by Doug Collette
Published: August 17, 2016
Read "We Live Here" CD/LP/Track Review We Live Here
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 18, 2017
Read "On Ceremony" CD/LP/Track Review On Ceremony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 17, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.