Selected by Dan Grunebaum
Miles' right-hand man
In another sign of Japan's
importance as a record market, jazz fusion great Marcus Miller will launch his new album M2
with a quick Japan tour before setting off for Europe and the US.
Best known for his stellar work with the late great Miles Davis, Miller took up the bass
in his teens, becoming part of the New York soul scene in his early years. Breaking into
the jazz world as part of a tour with drummer Lenny White's group, Miller soon became a
sought-after session player, recording with Roberta Flack and Aretha Franklin in the late
In 1980, Miller was invited to join Miles Davis, participating in the live concerts that
marked the trumpet great's comeback after an extended absence. Despite Miles' liking for
the bassist, Miller soon left Davis for the greater financial rewards of session work,
rejoining Miles in 1986 after working with popular saxophonist David Sanborn.
Miles and Miller renewed their relationship with greater intensity, creating perhaps
Miles' closest artistic collaborations since his work with Gil Evans in the '50s. Miles
entrusted Miller with almost complete creative control on his landmark Grammy-winning
album, Tutu. Miller's effortlessly funky bass lines and rich synthesizer charts
resulted in perhaps the finest album of Davis' latter period. The pair then went on to
collaborate on the Siesta and Amandlia albums.
The new album, M2, marks Miller's first in four years and, he says in an interview
for the liner notes, contains some surprises. "We covered some tunes that you don't
normally hear. Tunes like the Talking Heads' 'Burning Down the House,' and John Coltrane's
M2 features a spectacular array of guests including Herbie Hancock, Branford
Marsalis and Chaka Khan, just to name a few from the star-studded lineup. "My goal on
this new album was to present music the way I heard it," Miller explained. "I
wanted to make a funk/jazz record that contains the history of jazz and also the
Miller plays Shibuya AX on June 14 and Shibuya Kokaido on June 15. See listings for details.