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
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith. We hung out at my Aunt Kate's Soul Food restaurant in Harlem after the matinees at the Apollo where I listened to their stories. I knew I wanted to be a jazz musician from then on. My mother wanted me to play piano, but my Aunt bought me a guitar. I've been playing ever since.
At my mother's early prompting, I first sang Blue Velvet at my Catholic elementary school...and all the nuns came running in and asked me to sing again, so I knew I must have sounded pretty good. I've been singing ever since.
I met Tony Bennett in Miami and he inspired me to return to New York. He was a great mentor.
The best show I ever attended is mpossible to say, I've seen so many great shows. From Tony Bennett to Pat Martino, Return to Forever to Weather Report...I've seen some great performances.
My advice to new listeners is don't let jazz intimidate you, the music has something for every listener and it is our American gift to the world.