We've spoken here before about how great Marcus Miller and his current Renaissance band is live. The group of Miller on bass, Sean Jones on trumpet, Alex Han on saxophone, Adam Agati on guitar, Louis Cato on drums, and Kris Bowers on keys (who wasn't at the Austin gig I attended but was fantastic on Miller's latest album) are certainly talents to behold and exemplify a great combination of the old(-ish, but certainly not too old) pro and young bucks that has run through jazz for time immemorial. If you haven't had the chance to hear Renaissance, you should, but in the meantime, you should watch this two hour performance of the group performing in Marciac back in August after the jump.
They, you know that they who pass sayings from person to person to wherever you hear these things, say Austin is the "Live Music Capital of the World", but from time to time you hear someone, who may have heard it from another version of they, say Austin also has a bit of a blind spot for jazz. It's a point I may have brought up here once or twice. Nevertheless, I was intrigued by how this musicians' "velvet rut" as I recently learned on an episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations would treat Marcus Miller and his band from his latest album, Renaissance. Spoiler alert: they treated the group quite well.
angelikabeener[at]gmail.com / @alternate_takes
As Marcus Miller catches me up on a major project he’d been working on over the last couple years, he stops mid-sentence to give me some background, humbly explaining, “I had produced an album called Tutu for Miles Davis.”
No big whoop, right?
When you talk to the bassist, composer, producer, arranger, and film scorer, his down-to-earth and disarming demeanor is center stage, while his illustrious career speaks volumes for itself. In the twenty-six years since that landmark album with Davis, Miller has carved out his own distinguished path, setting himself miles apart from the pack. His collaborative efforts include an esteemed list of trailblazers across musical styles and genres like Luther Vandross, Aretha Franklin, Elton John, Mariah Carey and Herbie Hancock. He has also positioned himself as one of the most highly sought after black film scorers in Hollywood while simultaneously enjoying a successful solo career. On Renaissance (Concord Jazz), his eighth studio album as a leader, Miller’s message away from his instrument is just as profound as the music performed by he and his fresh band of dynamic, young players. “I think that music is really just a mirror to whatever’s going on in the world, and we’re just in a time where people are kind of playing it safe,” Miller proclaims. “People are nervous; people are thinking about money all the time, so they’re not taking the chances they used to take. It’s difficult -- even if you’re doing something interesting -- it’s difficult to get people to hear it. Record companies are just trying to stay in business so they’re not really concerned with presenting new, challenging music. So it’s more like the business people are calling the shots more than they used to. Back in the day, it was the music lovers who called the shots, and then they’d have to explain it to the business people. Not a lot of guys around like that anymore. Everybody’s just trying to keep the doors open. Music and business has always been an uncomfortable relationship, but right now the music is really suffering.”
Marcus Miller is back in the studio for a new recording slated for this spring in Europe and Asia and for this summer in North America. The cast is Marcus on bass guitar, fretless bass and bass clarinet, Louis Cato on drums, Federico Gonzalez Pena and recent Monk winner Kris Bowers on keyboards, Alex Han on saxophone, Sean Jones and Maurice Brown on trumpet, and Adam Rogers and Adam Agati on guitar. Most of the songs were written by Marcus but he also covers "Mr. Clean" written by Weldon Irvine, who was a mentor to all the young musicians in Jamaica, Queens (Lenny White, Bernard Wright, Omar Hakim, and Tom Browne all played in Weldon's groups). "Mr. Clean" was originally recorded on Freddie Hubbard's 1970 album Straight Life. Marcus also covers "Setembro (Brazilian Wedding Song)", written by Ivan Lins, and covered by Take 6 and Sarah Vaughn on Quincy Jones' Back on the Block. Check out these short clips from the session!
s.helary [at] nextbop.com
If you've been paying attention to Nextbop lately, you already know that Marcus Miller's new album entitled "A Night in Monte-Carlo" will be released on Concord February 1st! In case you missed it here's a link to the official press release. 3 tracks from the album have been available on Marcus' Nextplayer for a while (just click on the big white play button at the top of this post to check 'em out!).
To celebrate the release, Nextbop and Concord are giving away 3 autographed copies of the album! All you have to do is head over to http://facebook.com/nextbop, click on the "Discussions" tab and post a comment letting us know who's your favorite Nextbop Artist OTHER THAN MARCUS!!!! Winners will be selected via Random.org on January 31st 2011. Best of luck to all!