No jumping the shark here, but I have a deep and dark confession to make and felt I needed to do this to clear my conscience. You see, for decades I earned my living as a DJ, and I thought I was good at it, until a few weeks ago. That’s when I ran into this gentleman. I had never even heard of Marcus Miller before I stumbled on these videos and I find that almost unforgivable.
Marcus was born in Brooklyn in 1959 and has been playing jazz professionally since he was 15. He has been featured on over 500 albums by such artists as Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, Bill Withers, Aretha Franklin, Elton John, Grover Washington Jr. Donald Fagen, LL Cool J, Dr. John, Mariah Carey, Herbie Hancock, and Chaka Khan. He was also a member of the eighties band Scritti Politti, and in 1997 shared the spotlight with Eric Clapton, and Joe Sample on an 11 stop tour of jazz festivals.
As a composer, Marcus wrote “Tutu” for Miles Davis, a piece that defined Davis’s career in the late 1980s, and the title track of a Davis’ album for which Marcus wrote all the songs with only two exceptions, one of which was co-written with Davis. He also wrote “Da Butt”, which was featured in Spike Lee’s film School Daze.
Marcus uses a custom built bass with a built in preamp and a maple neck in order to hollow out the sound. Miller has also pioneered the “slappin’” style of playing, and has taken the fretless bass into areas of jazz that it has never gone before.
…and to complete my penance;
There are lot’s of versions of this one but none of them sound quite right without his drummer Poogie Bell. In fact, you can tell when Poogie is there before he even makes a sound by the way Marcus begins. It’s almost as if they grew up on the same block together and I would be remiss if I left Poogie out completely.
Bell was born in 1961 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His father was a jazz pianist and the band leader for the Charles Bell Contemporary Jazz Quartet. As an infant, Poogie regularly watched his father’s band rehearse. He made his concert debut with his father’s band at age two and a half, playing at Carnegie Hall in Pittsburgh. In 1966 he performed with Pearl Bailey on the Mike Douglas Show. His list of co-workers is equally as impressive as is Marcus Miller’s. Indeed, Poogie has been with Marcus for eleven of his albums
On Sunday, the 25th of November, 2012, Marcus’ tour bus crashed in Switzerland, en route to Monte Carlo. The driver was killed, but Miller, ten members of his band, and another driver sustained no life-threatening injuries.