Tag Archives: marcus miller

MTH-V: Herbie’s “Actual Proof”

The weekly video series/curation is back again after a lengthy hiatus. And back with a bang.

This is the first time I’ve explicitly featured Herbie Hancock in this series, though he’s come up on occasion (you can see him with Michael Brecker here). Below is one of my favorite songs of his, “Actual Proof,” which was originally released on 1974’s Thrust. (It’s my favorite of the Headhunters albums.) Herbie has long been one of my all-time favorite musicians. Even though he’ll be 73 next month, he remains one of the most forward-thinking figures in music of any genre, and he’s always progressing and experimenting. Attempting a brief career overview here is silly, but suffice it to say he’s just about done it all. From his groundbreaking early work with Miles (both acoustic and electric), to his various funk explorations, to crossover success with “Rockit” and later a Grammy for Album of the Year for a wonderfully original Joni Mitchell tribute, to his exploring the ends of both jazz and pop music, he’s a force to be reckoned with. (And to top it off, he seems to be a sweetheart by all accounts.) I have about twenty of his solo albums – which barely scratches the surface! – as well as just about everything he did with Miles. It’s such an eclectic collection, as just about everything he does is great. I’ve seen him in concert four times (five if you count an interview in which he played a couple tunes), and he blew me away each time in a different capacity. (One performance included a 55-minute “Dauphin Dance” that was from another planet…)

The band in the below video is a slightly amended version of his Headhunter’s ’05 band that was assembled for his featured set at Bonnaroo 2005. (I attended Bonnaroo ’05, and the Headhunters set remains one of the best shows I’ve ever seen of any style.) This particular lineup played later that year, with this performance taking place in Tokyo. The personnel features many powerhouses – most of which are well-known bandleaders in their own right:

Herbie Hancock – piano
Terri Lyne Carrington – drums
Roy Hargrove – trumpet
Munyungo Jackson – percussion
Lionel Loueke – guitar
Marcus Miller – bass
Wah Wah Watson – guitar

(Simply trade John Mayer for Watson and add Kenny Garrett and you have the lineup I saw at Bonnaroo…)

This is a great rendition of Herbie classic. Hancock, Hargrove, and Loueke all get some solo space, and the unparalleled rhythm section of Carrington/Miller/Jackson/Watson holds the groove down while weaving in and out of various feels. Just ignore Hargrove’s early entrance on the head. 🙂

MTH-V: Marcus Miller’s “Detroit”

It’s almost been a year since I started this series, the second entrant for which was my beloved Marcus Miller. This week, it’s time for another dose. I have a couple reasons:

1. It’s Marcus.
2. A few weeks ago, I saw his solo band live (finally!) at Detroit’s Jazz Cafe at Music Hall.

Outside of the coasts, he rarely tours the US, so it was nice to see him visit the mitten. This year he has been touring with his new (younger) band – occasionally with a different keyboardist and/or trumpeter – instead of the usual crew of Poogie, Patches, et al., the members of which are featured on this summer’s Renaissance. It was so great to see him and his group in such an intimate venue. The video below doesn’t even begin to capture the energy that was present.

Here’s footage of a performance of “Detroit” (from the new album) in Marciac, France. As with everything Marcus touches, this is FUNKY:

The band above is:
Adam Agati – Guitar
Kris Bowers – Keys
Louis Cato – Drums
Alex Han – Sax
Sean Jones – Trumpet

And here’s a little clip from the Detroit show featuring Miller’s Detroiter protégé Brandon Ross:

MTH-V: Marcus Miller trifecta

Disclaimer: Those who solely listen “seriously” at all times might not appreciate these. Otherwise, have fun and click away. 🙂

For this week, I’ve decided on a “threefer.” Mainly because, although I do have a favorite of the three, they’re all worth posting (for different reasons), and best posted in tandem. The below videos are all of Marcus Miller‘s “Run For Cover,” performed live with different bands (two are similar, but none are the same), spanning from 1984 into the mid-1990s. I know Marcus can be a touchy subject for a number of “serious jazz musicians” because he sits comfortably on the border of smooth jazz. And I can definitely sympathize with the criticisms. His studio albums (as a leader and/or producer) are hit and miss for me – generally I’ll really like a handful of tunes and ignore the rest. But live and as a sideman, I can’t get enough. (Because of this, he fascinates me endlessly.)

I’ll post the three videos in chronological order, with brief notes for each. Bassists may recognize because of the main bassline in the introductory vamp. Now, one question you may be wondering is: Mike, why are you posting something so cheesy? The answer is simple: because it’s good! As Jeff Coffin says, he likes music that moves him: moves his head, moves his heart, and/or moves his body – it needs to do one of those things to grab him. Marcus definitely succeeds in moving the body here…

1. David Sanborn w. Marcus Miller (1984) — This comes from a live concert that was later released as Sanborn’s Straight to the Heart (1984). I wish I could find a DVD of this concert, as the album was severely compromised by over-producing (e.g., overdubbing awful synth lines, etc.). This stripped-down performance with top-notch session- and sidemen is pretty solid, though. (Notes: Ignore Hiram Bullock’s dancing. There’s a bass intro, and the actual tune starts at ~1:59. And Sanborn makes his chops known.)

2.  Marcus Miller Project (1991) — This performance is from Japan’s famous Live Under The Sky festival. Marcus is the leader this time, and it features many musicians who remain in his band (on and off) to this day. This is the most high-octane performance of the three, and for that reason it’s arguably my favorite. (Being 1991, though, the clothes are another story…do your best to ignore…) It’s pretty cheesy, but it is FUN! And after all, they’re not striving for “high art.” They’re looking to move the audience in their seats, and get them on their feet. They definitely succeed. (Note: Ignore the dancing & gyrating, especially from Everette Harp.) Also, Harp may fall in the smooth camp, but there’s no denying his skill here. Fortunately, he moves out of the smooth territory quickly in his solo.
PS — Make sure to catch Poogie Bell’s “Button Your Fly” t-shirt during the drum solo! 🙂

3. Marcus Miller Band (mid-1990s?) — For the “serious” listeners, this one’s for you. (Except for Patches Stewart’s trumpet solo — he thinks he’s Miles…and isn’t…) An updated band from the second video, and Hiram Bullock is back on guitar and still dancing. But the addition of KENNY GARRETT (!) brings the gravitas the doctor ordered — it’s a great palette cleanser after watching the first two videos in succession. 🙂 His solo is unfortunately short, but he takes it exactly where it needs to go. (Note: ignore the trumpet solo…if it weren’t for that part, this’d probably be my favorite of the three.)