When I was asked to a do a piece on my favorite artist, there was no way it could be anyone other than the great bassist Marcus Miller (b. July 1959 in Brooklyn, NY, raised in Jamaica Queens). Being that I am one of the biggest "Millerheads", (a.k.a. a big Marcus fan) only makes writing this piece even sweeter.
Many will know Marcus as the dynamic session's bassist on Tom Browne's debut LP, Browne Sugar, and follow-up hit LP, Love Approach, which features the funk party jam, "Funkin' For Jamaica"; holding down the bottom end on Roberta Flack and Peabo Bryson's, Live And More, or groovin' on the late, great saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr.'s Grammy award- winning masterpiece, Winelight, which includes the timeless classic, "Just The Two of Us," featuring the voice of the incomparable Bill Withers. But that is only a sample of the massive repertoire of recordings that Marcus has performed during his career as a sideman. His signature bass sound can be heard on more recordings that I can attempt to count, for fear that I may miss a couple hundred more!
And his production credits? Again, deemed very worthy of mention, but too numerous to include here. Be aware, there’s a legion of Marcus fans out here and we have followed this gifted musician's career for many years, recognizing that Marcus is far more than just a behind-the-scenes bass player. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being known – according to Bass Player Magazine - as "one of ten of the most influential bassists of the 90s” : that certainly does have its rewards and there’s no question that Marcus is reaping those rewards tenfold. We know he's paid his dues over the years to enjoy the accolades that he now receives from his peers.
A professional bass player since the tender age of fifteen, Marcus (who also plays guitar, keyboards, sax, and a mean bass clarinet the multi-talented Grammy award- winning singer/songwriter/composer/producer's bass licks, production and film scoring chops are in such demand these days that the heaviest hitters in the music industry from every genre, are constantly vying to have him collaborate with them.
Marcus has also made quite a name for himself over the years, building an impressive discography of hits, real classics, and other gems, which he has produced since the early 1980s working with powerhouse artists such as Luther Vandross, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, David Sanborn, Lonnie Liston Smith, and most notably, the late, great trumpeter, Miles Davis, one of Marcus' musical influences.
With Marcus on board as a member of Miles' comeback band, a magical musical partnership was born. Both being masters of their respective instruments, Marcus, Miles and the rest of the band, performed knock-out gems like "Tutu", and "Full Nelson" and "Amandla", (all produced by Marcus) around the world, reviving Miles' career and introducing him to a new and younger audience. This partnership lasted until Miles' untimely death in 1991, and his association with the legend earned Marcus respect from his peers and fans alike, solidifying his place as one of the true giants in the industry.
Remarkably, Marcus somehow finds time to release his own solo efforts as well and recently starting his own record label, 3 Deuces Records. His sixth release, the 2001 CD, M2, won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Jazz Album and his latest live and uncut CD, The Ozell Tapes is sure to be another winner as well.
As if he didn’t have enough on his plate, Marcus decided to take his music to the movies some time ago, subsequently scoring for films such as Kid N' Play's, House Party, Eddie Murphy's, Boomerang and more recently, Serving Sara, with Matthew Perry and Elizabeth Hurley, Deliver Us From Eva, with LL Cool J and Gabrielle Union and Head of State , which stars comics Chris Rock and Bernie Mac.
So, the next time you're kicked back and chillin' to David Sanborn's, Double Vision, Upfront, or Inside; or you hear a classic Luther Vandross tune - such as "Never Too Much," "Until You Come Back To Me/Superstar," "Bad Boy/Having A Party," or the Grammy award-winning, "Love Power/Power of Love" on the radio (or preferably, on your stereo!), remember Marcus Miller produced and played on all of them. And while you're pondering that, also marvel at the thought that Marcus and Luther could very well be as indirectly responsible for the baby boom of the 1980s as Barry "The Maestro" White was during the 1970s! Listen to the bass lines on all their work together with new ears and lose your mind the same way some of us bass players did when we heard them for the first time. And, finally, the next time you find yourself at the cinema, check out the opening credits for the person who did the film score. It just may be Marcus Miller.
These days, you can find the seemingly tireless Marcus touring around the world with his band. If you've never seen him in concert, do yourself a favor and check him out: I strongly suggest you get your tickets right away since his concert appeal is such that available seating doesn't last for very long. You don't want to be among the crowd who are left out on the doorstep straining to hear his performance so make sure you catch his show when he comes to your area! Oh and when you get to his live show, who are the ones hollering and partying the loudest down in front if you do make it in? Don't worry. It's just a bunch of us Millerheads. We're everywhere Marcus is!
For more information about Marcus Miller and tour dates, visit: http://www.marcusmiller.com
You can reach Eve by e-mail at: email@example.com