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Electronic - Released April 1, 2012 | Dreyfus Jazz

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Had Marcus Miller chosen a more fusion-centric path, it's quite possible that he would have become as iconic among fusion heads as Jaco Pastorius or Miroslav Vitous. Miller certainly knows his way around his electric bass, and he probably would have been a great addition to Return to Forever if Stanley Clarke had been unavailable for their 2008 reunion tour and Chick Corea had offered him the gig. But that is speculation, of course. What we can say with certainty is that being hell-bent for fusion is not the path chosen by the highly eclectic, broad-minded Miller, who is as well known for his work with Luther Vandross and for co-writing E.U.'s 1988 funk/go-go hit "Da Butt" as he is for the composing, producing, and playing he did on Miles Davis' Tutu and Amandla albums in the ‘80s. Nonetheless, Miller is quite capable of playing jazz when he wants to, and jazz is the main ingredient on A Night in Monte Carlo. Documenting a November 29, 2008 appearance in Monte Carlo, Monaco, this 63-minute CD unites Miller with the Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra as well as with trumpeter/flügelhornist Roy Hargrove. Occasionally, A Night in Monte Carlo steps outside of jazz; "State of Mind" and "Your Amazing Grace" (both of which feature singer Raúl Midón) are essentially vocal R&B. But instrumental jazz of the electric fusion variety dominates this concert, and the fact that Miller is operating in a very orchestral environment doesn't mean that there isn't room for stretching and improvising on memorable performances of Davis' "So What," George Gershwin's "I Loves You, Porgy," Jimmy Dorsey's "I'm Glad There Is You" and Amandla's title track. Some of those tunes have been beaten to death over the years, but not by fusion artists, and Miller manages to keep things intriguing even on some extremely familiar warhorses. A Night in Monte Carlo is not recommended to jazz purists; this is mainly jazz, but it's jazz with rock, funk, and hip-hop elements. Fusion lovers, however, will be delighted to hear Miller in this electric jazz-oriented environment. © Alex Henderson /TiVo
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Jazz - Released April 1, 2012 | Dreyfus Jazz

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Jazz - Released May 28, 2012 | Dreyfus Jazz

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Jazz - Released April 1, 2012 | Dreyfus Jazz

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Jazz - Released April 1, 2012 | Dreyfus Jazz

CD£13.99

Jazz - Released April 1, 2012 | Dreyfus Jazz

This is the Marcus Miller everybody always knew existed yet never really heard on record. This is the man who can play bass, saxophone, and bass clarinet, and also compose, produce, arrange, etc., and usually does so in a slick studio setting. The Ozell Tapes is reported to be an "official bootleg"; it's official to be sure but it's no bootleg. These are tapes from the band's 2002 tour straight from the soundboard without any remixing. The tapes are not from a single show, however, but the best performances from the entire tour. It's a small complaint, really, that it doesn't have the complete languid feel of a single show, because this is easily the best record Miller has ever released. His combined talents come into focus in spontaneous settings, where he walks the tightrope between composed or covered material, and between arranged and improvised material. And the material: There are two sets, on a pair of CDs. The music vacillates between the sacred and profane, but it's all from the heart of the groove. First there's the jam "Power," an early showcase of the band's strengths, and it's immediately followed by an elegant and emotionally played funked-up version of Miles Davis' "So What," with a two-piece horn section and Miller on electric bass turning the groove over and back accompanied by an atmospheric airy (à la "In a Silent Way") piano. From here the band moves to John Coltrane's "Lonnie's Lament," and turns it upside down into groove jazz meets gutter funk. The Coltrane vibe is replaced by something quite beautiful and lovely, and there is no irreverence in the interpretation. The ensemble is tight to the point of instinctual reaction, and on the covers it becomes obvious very quickly how well attuned the bandmembers are to Miller's seemingly endless musical palette. There are readings of "I Loves You Porgy" and Talking Heads' "Burning Down the House," Joe Sample and Will Jennings' "When Your Life Was Low," Thom Bell's "You Make the World Go Round," and "Killing Me Softly" -- all with stunning vocal appearances by the divine Lalah Hathaway. But the covers only show one side; on the band's originals such as "Scoop," "Panther," and "3 Deuces," the easy looseness is evident even though these cats play their asses off. Nowhere is this more evident than on the set's final track, a medley of the Miller/Miles Davis-penned tunes "Hannibal," "Tutu," and "Amandla." Miller pushes his bandmembers to play the same unexpected twists and turns Miles was famous for, tossing changeups into the mix at odd moments, moving a time signature, changing a groove, shifting an interval -- and they respond without a seam. They make it gritty and beautiful, improvising with grace, aplomb, and grit. The Ozell Tapes proves that Marcus Miller is not a "smooth jazz" musician or a "fusion" musician or a "pop" musician; this proves he is a jazz musician who plays thoroughly modern, emotionally and intellectually satisfying electric jazz. If rhythm, subtle harmony, melody, a touch of funkiness, and a bucket of soul are your thing, then this is for you no matter what kind of music you listen to. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released April 1, 2012 | Dreyfus Jazz

CD£13.99

Jazz - Released April 1, 2012 | Dreyfus Jazz

Marcus Miller is one of the great hyphenates of contemporary rhythm and jazz, equally successful as a producer (Luther Vandross, David Sanborn), songwriter (numerous Vandross hits, James/Sanborn's "Maputo"), and artist in his own right. It's not easy to capture every aspect of the man who has been called the "Superman of Soul" on one disc, but Live and More -- which draws from sold out performances in Los Angeles, Montreux, and throughout Japan -- gives it a solid effort. While Miller plays everything but the kitchen sink himself (bass, bass clarinet, guitar, and vocoder), the genuine excitement here emerges from giving space to and interacting and stretching out with his sea of all-stars. Miller wrote the moody trumpet-led seduction "Tutu" for Miles, but Michael "Patches" Stewart carries on in those muted footsteps (complemented by a flügelhorn solo) above a controlled Miller bassline and Poogie Bell's subtle drum brushes. Miller emerges as a halfway decent singer on the Crusaders-like "Funny" but leaves the bulk of the instrumental work to Kenny Garrett's gentle soprano and Hiram Bullock's increasingly raucous guitar. Miller also offers the studio ballad "Sophie" on which he adds yet another voice to his repertoire -- soprano sax. © Jonathan Widran /TiVo
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Jazz - Released April 1, 2012 | Dreyfus Jazz

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Jazz - Released April 1, 2012 | Dreyfus Jazz

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Jazz - Released April 1, 2012 | Dreyfus Jazz

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Jazz - Released July 14, 2008 | Dreyfus Jazz

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Marcus Miller in the magazine
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