VOICES Notes and news on Contemporary Jazz releases
16 AUG 11 JONATHAN WIDRAN
The dynamic commissioned performance at the Monte Carlo Jazz Festival chronicled on A Night In Monte-Carlo is one of Marcus Miller's latest performances in the fabled city. But there's another unique connection that the multiple Grammy Award-winning bassist, composer and producer has that many of his fans might not be aware of -- he's also "played" there as a race car buff during the Grand Prix.
Typical of a career that includes performances on over 500 recordings and extensive work with late greats like Miles Davis and Luther Vandross, Miller tackles over a century of music and a joyfully schizophrenic array of genres. Reaching into a musical bag that includes Gershwin, Miles, Puccini, bossa nova and his own funked-out jazz/fusion originals, he triumphs and transcends as a performer and bandleader with the Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra.
The most grooving, in the pocket track is still progressive, as "Blast!" takes off into unique futuristic world fusion territory. He works in tandem with the soaring strings most of the rest of the set, playing alongside special guests like Herbie Hancock (on a graceful version of the socially conscious Billie Holiday classic "Strange Fruit," with Miller on bass clarinet).
Miller also lets singer Raul Midon and trumpeter Roy Hargrove loose on the vibrant Brazilian part of a medley of "O Mio Babbino Caro/Mas Que Nada." Midon uses his "voice trumpet" technique on that tune while performing "State Of Mind" and "Your Amazing Grace" (with Miller again on bass clarinet) in his regular vocal style. Two Miles tracks, the classic "So What" and the Miller penned "Amandla" allow Miller to pay stylish homage to the trumpet legend.