The Ozell Tapes
The Ozell Tapes: The Official Bootleg (3 Deuces/Telarc), is a two-disc compendium of live performances from electric bass phenom Marcus Miller. And Miller's electric sextet delivers a virtual dissertation of blistering instrumental funk. The results are more dynamic and jazzlike than Miller's studio efforts and may finally win over those jazzbos who have long admired the bassist's technique but held his smoother sensibilities at arm's length. There is, in fact, nothing "smooth" about Ozell, despite the presence of synthesizers and down-tempo grooves (and a glowing guest turn by singer Lalah Hathaway). Miller's band-fronted by trumpeter Michael "Patches" Stewart and saxophonist Roger Byam and anchored by drummer Poogie Bell and guitarist Dean Brown-takes each song in the repertoire to a kind of apotheosis of pocket playing; even John Coltrane's "Lonnie's Lament" and George Gershwin's "I Loves You Porgy" become vehicles for the straight eighth-note (as opposed to swung). It's telling that these covers never seem halfhearted or put-on; there's no exploitation in Miller's appropriations, only reverence. Funk is his lingua franca, and nobody speaks it more fluently.