December 13, 2008

Marcus Miller -- Marcus

One of the most electrifying and prolific—not to mention monumentally talented-- bassist/producers in the business, has stepped forward with yet another resoundingly creative and superior release in Marcus.

Marcus Miller definitely needs no introduction. Even novices have certainly heard the name floated about in conversation about musical innovators and key playmakers. His list of accomplishments and liaisons is too extensive to tackle here and now, but trust me when I say that, if you’ve heard or seen a prominent jazz or R&B musician, he or she has probably had some direct or indirect association with this master of the bottom. Well-traveled, accomplished, and gifted are terms that are simply too mild to adequately describe Miller.

The CD, Marcus, comes with so much energy and creativity that you’re practically overwhelmed with it all right from the beginning. Case in point: You will be very hard-pressed to identify a tune with more intensity, hot chops, and super-cool hooks than the opening track, “Blast!” Still, listen further--as you most assuredly will--and there will be tunes competing for your attention beyond this torrid opener.

Try his crafty and flawless covers of “Free,” with sweet vocals provided by Corinne Bailey Rae, Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground,” a smooth bass clarinet version of “When I Fall In Love,” and renditions of Robin Thicke’s “Lost Without U” and Tower of Power’s “What Is Hip?” Then, tackle the originals like “Funk Joint,” Pluck,” “Milky Way,” and “Strum.” Diverse offerings are not new to contemporary or fusion jazz, but never have they been offered with more fire, soul, touch, and ingenuity. There are conventional (and not-so-conventional) guitarists, both aspiring and well-established, who will marvel at the funk-loaded licks. No wonder he has been admiringly dubbed by peers as the “Thumbslinger!”

If you’ve not had the profound pleasure of owning one of Miller’s creations, grab this one and feel the pull, the drive, the unparalleled heat of funk. I should think that you will find it difficult to deny any understanding as to why the man has the following he has. Will you be among them? I’m pretty sure I know the answer to that one if you enjoy music with both power and class.

Posted by Ronald Jackson at December 13, 2008 7:37 PM