Special contribution submitted by Ron Roxtar
When one goes to see Marcus Miller you know what you’re in for. Some introspective, funky, progressive, smooth Jazz bass.
That’s exactly what we got on his Canada day Jazz Festival performance. Miller came on stage wearing his signature black hat and played a small bass solo. That lead into a funky upbeat drumbeat that had the whole room grooving along as Miller and his excellent band grooved into Three Deuces from his M2 album.
Although Miller is a legend he was very appreciative of his band-mates and introduced them more than occasion. Thank goodness he did because some of the loudest reactions of the night were from the various solos played. In particular huge kudos have to go to Donald Hayes on saxophone. His solos were a standout that I’m sure have people talking about it today.
Julian Pollard was on keyboards and he added some really bizarre effects into his playing that were fun to hear and watch. Alexis Lombre was a second keyboardist who had her moments to shine as well. Cedric Moore was great. Keeping the drum beat all night but had a small window for soloing.
This being a bass heavy show I was glad a tribute was performed for the late Jaco Pastorius simply titled; Mr. Pastorius. It is from the Miller-produced Miles Davis album, Amandla. This gave a chance for trumpeter Russell Gunn to be showcased. Gunn and Hayes would play together several times throughout the night to double our pleasure. Even though another Miller produced song, ‘Tutu’ was played later on, Miller took time to play a Miles Davis song from the 70s; Bitches Brew. The song was a highlight in the evening’s show. Marcus even joked that back in the 70s was when everyone had a “a big afro and bell bottom pants.”
After a standing ovation Marcus and the band came back to really lay on some ponderous funk with a cover of The Beatles’ Come Together. Marcus was slapping the bass strings fiercely while bopping around. The audience highly engaged singing the ‘Right Now‘ with conviction.
The music, musicians, and light show all seemed to have a communicative way of being not too over the top while not being too low key. Everything from the music, musicians and even the light show had a perfect flow of musical symbiosis.
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