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Marcus Miller, Renaissance – a CD Review

I could be blindfolded and listen to 30 seconds of Marcus Miller’s latest CD “Renaissance and totally recognize who is playing.

Marcus has such a distinctive “voice” but by the same token, this CD clearly demonstrates the extraordinarily wide scope of his musicality! When we reflect on the meaning of “Renaissance” or “rebirth” a creative explosion of a grand variety of arts comes to mind.

Our August cover interview with Marcus, by Rick Suchow, gives us some keen insight into the thoughts behind this creative work; so if you missed it, check out

I also found a clip from Concord records of Marcus talking about this project that I wanted to share.

Now that we have the foundation down, let’s get down to this CD!

Marcus recruited a veritable army of musicians to help on different tracks including Gretchen Parlato and Ruben Blades. They are all excellent at their craft and with Marcus tying it all together on every tune.

Let’s have a closer look at some of my favorite tracks…

The First track “Detroit” starts us out with some classic funky slapping and popping. This tune has its own attitude and is nice and tight! Of course the bass is precise and lightning fast in parts and Marcus plays with a fluidity that makes it seem easy.

February” weaves an exotic flow of piano, bass, sax and trumpet, guitar and djembe into a fascinating, syncopated time signature piece. I get a kind of Mid-Eastern vibe at times and then it changes into a kind of reflective smoothness.

Slippin into Darkness” brings a slow, gritty, funky deliberate kind of feel. Bass, piano and nice tight horns trade off for the musical theme and there is a juicy amount of soloing in the middle; everyone has a chance to shine here. Marcus’s bass does some serious “Talking” when he unleashes it.

Setembreo” (Brazilian Wedding Song) is the tune I mentioned before featuring Gretchen and Ruben on vocals. They lend a certain authenticating effect to the music, but I would have liked to hear more from Ruben than chorus and a few interjected accents.  This cut has a nice smooth Latin groove and percussion. There is a marked Afro-Antilles component going on through out the piece. Marcus brings his triple threat out by playing fretless bass, bass clarinet and acoustic bass.

Revelation” is a piece that seems to be perfect for a “Cirque” act. The simple beauty of the bass opening followed by electric guitar, aggressive African tempo and a musical flow that wants to tell a story. There should be somebody on a trapeze somewhere!

Lastly let me mention the amazingly haunting solo bass rendition of “I’ll Be There” that renders a tribute to the late Michael Jackson in a pure bass way. This is Marcus by himself and it couldn’t get any better… very nice!

So, there you have it. I have only skimmed the surface of this excellent musical masterpiece CD from the iconic, Grammy award winning Mr. Marcus Miller. It was everything I expected and then some. You need to hear the whole thing… definitely one for the collection!

Marcus Miller’s Renaissance available at Amazon.com

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