Jazzman Marcus Miller loves his work so much it's a wonder he doesn't make his home in the recording studio. The prolific 46-year-old Miller is a respected composer, arranger and producer. But above all else, he's regarded as one of jazz music's top bass players. VOA's Doug Levine tells us about Marcus Miller's latest album "Silver Rain."
Marcus Miller not only loves to work, he loves the challenges that comes with the work. Having played with some of the best, from Grover Washington, Jr. to Miles Davis, Marcus Miller's biggest challenge these days is refining his own sound. With Silver Rain, named after a Langston Hughes poem, Miller says he began by going back to his New York City roots.
"There's a lot of variety on this CD, and I really wanted to make this CD a reflection of what's going on in my head," he said. "I'm from New York City originally, and so as a developing musician, there was a lot of different music you could hear in New York. I was always influenced by different things and I wanted this CD to be a reflection of who I was."
"The other challenge for me was to make it sound like one CD," he continued. "One thing that really helps is that my sound has become very focused now [to the point] where you know it's me. So, although I'm going from one style to another style you can always tell, 'Oh yeah, that's him.'"
If variety is the spice of life, let that be the first lesson to aspiring musicians. Speaking from experience, Marcus Miller's advice: "Play whatever you can, wherever and whenever you can play it."
"I would end up in Brazilian bands, and learned how to play the samba there," he said. "I ended up in African bands where I learned how to play juju music. I played in reggae bands. I played in salsa bands, and all that music - if you hear it early enough in your life - it becomes part of you. And so now I go to these different parts of the world where I can actually experience this music first hand."
Marcus Miller recently returned home from a 12-date tour of Japan.
As always, Miller continues to lend a hand on other recordings. He performed on two tracks for an upcoming release by jazz keyboardist Jason Miles titled What's Going On? - The Songs Of Marvin Gaye.