Here we have the new album by master electric bassist & multi instrumentalist Marcus Miller. I'v been a fan of Marcus since his album Tales & in my opinion this album is his best work yet even topping the awesome grammy winning M2. The music follows Marcus's regular formula which is to mix originals & hip cover material usually from the past with instrumental & vocal tunes. Marcus follows that formula to the letter getting one of my favorite female vocalists Gretchen Parlato to guest along side Rueben Blades on track 5 Ivan Lins "Brazilian Wedding Song". Dr. John does a grooving version of Janelle Monae's hit "Tightrope"on track 12. The rest of the music is made up of instrumentals written by Miller with some very cool covers given Miller's signature urban jazz funk treatment.
The musicians are some of music's finest with a big portion of the music handled by Marcus's road band with Louis Cato on drums, Kris Bowers on piano & Fender Rhodes, Adam Agati on electric guitar, Alex Han on alto sax & Maurice Brown on trumpet.
There are also guest appearances by Adam Rogers on acoustic & electric guitar on five tracks who's one of NYC's best jazz guitarists. Trumpeter Sean Jones appears on four tracks including track 9 Wendel Irwing's Mr. Clean made famous by trumpeter Freddie Hubbard.
Here's a few musical moments that are personal high points. The album opens with another potential bass anthem "Detroit" like "Power" was to M2. "Detroit" is a driving funk jazz piece with a tight bass & electric guitar unison line opening the tune with tight punches from the alto sax of Alex Han & the trumpet of Maurice Brown. I was especially impressed with the guitar playing of Adam Agati who I personally have never heard of until now. Track 4 is an enjoyable arrangement of War's hit "Slippin Into Darkness" which features killer solos by Adam Rogers & Sean Jones, also present are Alex Han on alto & Maurice Brown on trumpet.
As I mentioned earlier Miller recasts Wendel Irwing's Mr. Clean on track 9 with the expanded band of Rogers & Jones joining Miller's road band, it's given an up beat almost go go beat treatment, halfway thru the tune Miller breaks it down with one of his heroic slap bass solos. Marcus is without question one of the bass worlds most original solo voices right along side Victor Wooten & Stanley Clarke. Track 10 "Cee Tee Eye" is a hard hitting fusion jam saluting the legendary record label of Creed Taylor. Track 11 "Goree or (Go Ray) is probably my favorite tune, it features Marcus on bass clarinet & acoustic bass blowing a moody ballad that starts slow at first but by the time the bridge happens the dynamic has picked up with Louis Cato providing very cool grooves with brushes or maybe lighting rods. Marcus closes the album with a beautiful all bass version of the Berry Gordie penned tune "I'll Be There" first made famous by a young Michael Jackson, it's a nice simple but very beautiful way to finish a great album.
I'll close this review by saying if your already a fan of Marcus's past efforts then have no fear & get this album. If you liked Marcus's earlier stuff like Tales & Live & More but haven't checked out any of his more recent work then do yourself a favor & re-acquaint yourself with Miller's Renaissance you won't be disappointed.