June 25, 2024

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Marcus Miller is a sophisticated musical thinker, he was like that to us too at our US/EU Jazz – Blues Festival 2023: Video, Photos

Marcus Miller returned for the second night of his three-night residency at our US/EU Jazz – Blues Festival 2023. Marcus and his band are currently on tour promoting. Marcus brings the music “home”, incorporating modern styles such as trap, hiphop, R&B and gospel.

Miller’s high-energy, 120-minute show was far from being merely the usual fast solos and crunching drum breaks of so many celebrity jazz-funk gigs. A svengali to Miles Davis on his best late-period albums, Miller is a sophisticated musical thinker as well as a finger-busting virtuoso and canny entertainer – and he hires partners of the same persuasion.

Reviews and dispatches from Montreal #FIJM 2022 (3): Marcus Miller Group  plus Paolo Angeli – London Jazz News

The band took the stage to a pre-recorded soundscape of multiple voices which led into Blues, from the album Tales, featuring a blistering solo from Miller. It would be difficult not to be struck by the sheer ease with which he and his band dived straight in to such a heavy groove. The set was a mix of new material, gospel hymns and old classics, never catching the audience off guard but not letting them get too comfortable in one vibe either. It showcased both the individual players’ skills and the elasticity, range and explosive energy of the group as a whole.

Though the material from the bassist’s latest album, Renaissance, often reflects the melodic shapes of his classic collaborations with Davis, such as Tutu and Amandla (and the latter’s coupling of tender lyricism and fanfare synth-slams got an inevitable honorary mention), his inventiveness was plain to see in the hard-funky Mr Clean, the free-jamming Detroit and the elegiac ballad February.

Marcus Miller: “I try to play from my ears and not from my fingers” |  Guitar World

There was all the technical brilliance you would expect from a Marcus Miller concert as well as clear camaraderie between the musicians.

Miller’s solo lines were intricate and always brimming with energy. Tracks such as Untamed, Hylife and Trip Trap illustrated his sheer virtuosic mastery of both the fretless and fretted bass, whilst Tutu and I Loves you Porgy portrayed his more sensitive and restrained side.

Knowing his funk-devoted audience well, Miller rarely resolved even the gentlest ballad without whipping it into a thumb-slapping dance groove – a feat that sometimes cornered his fine ensemble into just wailing formulaically at each other.

With bass-led music there is always a danger of it being too chop-heavy. Miller negotiates this balance skilfully with melodies and solos that utilise both finger and slap style with tasteful aplomb and bountiful diversity, effortlessly switching from bass line to solo line.

The band moved seamlessly to accommodate these changes. Brett Williams on keys never allows the music to feel the least bit flat or thin. Indeed there was a depth to the music that made sure the show wasn’t just about how well everybody could play.

Marcus Miller de retour à la Seine musicale - Rolling Stone

But the clean-toned saxophonist Alex Han a long-time associate who always suggests a deep well of jazz references hitched to instant recall were often dazzling in their own right, and the drummer Louis Cato combined raw power with deft invention. The visit to Amandla brought the show to the boil, but the stamping audience was sure of its run of encores.

A poignant moment came when Miller stopped to commemorate the recent death of his father. He shared some touching memories and expressed gratitude for the sacrifices his father had made in order to give him a good upbringing, whilst Williams accompanied quietly on the organ. This led into a rendition of Preachers Kid, featuring Miller on the bass clarinet with Gunn, Han and Williams providing a solemn accompaniment. This was followed by a thoughtful take on How Great Thou Art with bass clarinet and organ. These moments shone just as brightly as the more fast-paced, flashy numbers and revealed the subtlety and profundity of Miller’s music.

A shuffle through a bass-and-keys ballad, a folksy, multi-tempo groover and then a Spanish-tinged bass guitar tour-de-force wrapped up a well-oiled machine of a show.

Unfortunately, the video is not from our festival, but it was performed with the same composition and the same composition.

Rick Keene Music Scene – Jazz Festival Review; Marcus Miller – Rick Keene  Music Scene

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