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"If you ain't got it in you, you can't blow it out."
— Louis Armstrong

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Marcus Miller: A Night in Monte-Carlo

I like Marcus Miller. I better like him—he's incredibly cool (and incredibly nice, as I interviewed him once when he was in an airport and found him utterly giving and kind) and he's about the best electric bass player on the planet. And he was the arranger and producer of choice for both Miles Davis and Luther Vandross.

But his solo records are not quite jazz classics. His latest, Marcus Miller: A Night in Monte-Carlo (read my full PopMatters review here), is typical of Miller's solo work: eclectic to a fault and sometimes brilliant. This is a live date with Miller's funky jazz group, a full orchestra, guest vocalists, and a ton of stylistic range. Opera, bossa nova, funk, classic jazz, snappy pop singing. There's "Amazing Grace" and there's "So What". We get groovy vocal percussion from Raul Midon and feather-cool flugelhorn playing from Roy Hargrove. It's a pu-pu platter of music for sure, but at times it all works wonderfully—as when the orchestra and DJ Logic are both grooving at "So What" with the backbeat perfectly in the pocket.

A Night in Monte Carlo is a neat representation of a great polymath musician to whom boundaries are beside the point. If it works for you, then dig it.

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