Master of All Trades
Recorded live at Hollywood’s Knitting Factory for the American Treasures series, Master of All Trades is indeed a pearl for Miller devotees—one disc containing a beautifully produced concert and another featuring a bonus documentary and extra performances. The live disc includes inspired performances of Miller’s crossover electric material, and fortunately, nothing gets overly smooth as Miller alternates groove-tastic original material with equally funky interpretations: “So What” begins misleadingly as a straightahead read-through before being updated with danceable quiet-storm rhythms.
That acoustic-era Miles classic is reprised briefly during the closing “Miles Medley,” where the band cuts and pastes classic Miller compositions like “Hannibal” and “Tutu”—reminders that Miller’s tunes were inventive moments of reprieve during Miles’ frightful “Human Nature” era. Throughout the show, Miller is a superb leader on four strings, providing unerring rhythmic glue and soloing with a bedazzlement typically reserved for six-stringers. Miller surely deserves the grand accolades slathered on him during the bonus documentary, though one talking head’s claim that he’s the “Michael Jordan of music” takes well-meaning praise over the edge.