bass player is a legend and one of the most in-demand bass players
worldwide. He performed with musicians like Miles Davis, Brian Ferry,
Joan Armatrading, Victor Bailey, Bee Gees, Brecker Bros., Tom Browne,
Jonathan Butler, Luther Vandross, Brian Culbertson, Will Downing,
Roberta Flack, Dizzy Gillespie, Bob James, just to name a few. The
discography on his website counts 553 entries. To give a survey
about his whole musical live is carrying coal to New Castle.
"I like to keep things
balanced, combining R&B, jazz, funk and movie stuff to help reflect
what's happening in our world. I just try to keep challenging myself
to continue to grow and get better." So many of Marcus' albums are a
mirror of this attitude showcasing the diverse position of this
musical genius. The album starts with a title, the album is all about:
Blast! A mixture of Hip Hop moisture with a deep sip of Oriental
stuff. Somehow the bass world has discovered the structure of Arabian
music and Marcus layers some sitar lines on his bass lead.
Dig deeper into the nature of bass with Funk
Joint. Hosting the deepest tones Marcus shows us the reverberation
of contemporary jazz. Free is featuring the wonderful
songstress Corinne Bailey Rae in a cover of Deniece Williams' 1976
hit. She has a fresh voice, unadorned but so
natural. David Sanborn's alto sax adds some brilliant jazz sparkles to
this awesome R&B ballade.
Motowns musical genius Stevie Wonder recorded
Higher Ground for his masterwork Innervisions (1973), for
Marcus the ideal platform to expand his bass skills. Some say that Keb'
Mo' is the personal expression of blues. After the first hits of the
bass drums you know this kind of Milky Way is following the
path of trial and tribulation and Keb' is our guide.
The interlude Pluck is a bluesy
heavyweight. Marcus Miller on bass clarinet and sitar is a nice
surprise. Lost Without U is my personal favorite on this album.
Featuring Lalah Heathaway and The Ivey Sisters this song has the
appeal and ease of paradise. Gregoire Maret on harmonica is the
discovery of this year. Currently he is touring with Marcus Miller and
working on his debut album.
'Cause I Want You is featuring rapper Shihan the Poet. His
abilities to transcend cultural and generational boundaries have made
Shihan a much sought after talent. Gregoire Maret and his harmonica
are the backbone of Ooh! This song was written by Marcus and
soul diva Lalah Hathaway in 2006 as bonus track for the compilation
Power: Essential Marcus Miller.
On the romantic ballade When I Fall In Love
Marcus performs bass clarinet, fretless bass, organ, synth and
fender Rhodes. This isn't a demonstration of Marcus'
multi-instrumentality but the optimal realization of a musical idea.
On Strum (A strum is the act of brushing one's fingers over, or
strumming, the strings of a string instrument such as a guitar.)
Marcus performs a loop on his slap bass as the platform for the other
instruments especially Tom Scott's tenor sax. The piece reminds of
ancient TV-serials like The Streets of San Francisco.
Marcus, who worked with Miles Davis at
the end of his recording career, uses Miles' Jean-Pierre
to illustrate the late trumpeter's gift for making the most of a
simple melody. Often performed on his live shows he recorded this tune
for his album.
What Is Hip? was originally
recorded by the group Tower of Power for their third album in 1973.
Certainly their most successful album. Marcus' rendition is featuring
David Sanborn on alto sax. Sanborn, Miller, Chester Thompson on organ
and Poogie Belon drums that's the real thing.
The album finishes with another version of
Lost Without You this time featuring the spoken words of actress
and singer Taraji P. Henson, very popular as Whitney Rome in Boston
So the wheel turns full circle.
Starting his career as R&B star in the group Jamaica Boys, performing
bass on Tom Browne's Funkin' For Jamaica and E.U.’s Da’Butt
from the 1988 Spike Lee soundtrack to School Daze Marcus
rediscovered his penchant for R&B. To the jazz purists Marcus cites
Miles Davis: "Miles used to do songs from Broadway, and people thought
then it was corny. But he played with such heart. And that's the
trick: taking material and showing people the possibilities of how far
you can take this music. That's the tradition I'm trying to carry on."
When I understand correctly record
promotion veteran Lamont Boles we will have more R&B on Marcus' albums
in the future. What can be better than to get R&B with a sophisticated