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Marcus Miller: Beyond Bassics

Marcus Miller appraises fellow bassists in a listening session hosted by Don Heckman

Multiple Grammy Award-winner Marcus Miller is a true musical hyphenate. He is an essential figure in the history of the electric bass, but is also an adept and articulate performer on acoustic bass and bass clarinet. A first-call sideman while still in his teens, Miller was a member of the Saturday Night Live band in the late ’70s and became a crucial collaborator to Miles Davis during the trumpeter’s final decade. He has backed the likes of Herbie Hancock, Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra and LL Cool J, among others, and his production credits include recordings with David Sanborn, Luther Vandross and Chaka Khan. His numerous film scores include Boomerang (starring Eddie Murphy), Breakin’ All the Rules (starring Jamie Foxx) and the Chris Rock-directed Head of State. Miller recently released A Night in Monte-Carlo (Concord Jazz), a live recording from 2008 featuring the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra and special guests Roy Hargrove and guitarist/vocalist Raul Midón.

We got together for this listening session at Miller’s studio in Santa Monica, with its excellent acoustics and the handy availability of his bass clarinet, grand piano, acoustic bass and bass guitar for demonstration purposes.

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