Review: Thunder from Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller, and Victor Wooten

Thunder. Rhythmic, melodic, rock you out, funk you up. Thunder! Back in the spring when I interviewed Marcus Miller, I asked him what was in the pipeline. He mentioned that there was a bass trio recording that he Stanley and Victor were working on – and oh what a recording it’s turned out to be. I can’t imagine a better name for this all-star collaboration between these three Bass Masters of the Universe. The thunderous power that is conjured up by SMV is awe-inspiring, not just in the low and middle registers, but in the compositions and arrangements as well. This isn’t some ego driven free-for-all that’s all chops and no meat. In my opinion, it’s the compositions that drive this recording, with each bassist unselfishly contributing for the benefit of the whole. I have to admit that of the three players, I’m least familiar with Victor Wooten; but I was easily able to identify each distinctive voice, in fact, this is probably the best setting I’ve heard Stanley play in in quite sometime. To have three of today’s leading bassists, each of which bring much more to the table than just being a recording artist, creating such a cohesive project, speaks volumes of their talents and obvious kinship. One could only hope that this doesn’t end up being a one-off project. Also, kudos to Heads Up for having the guts to release this project, in a year that has been extremely lean for anything remotely approaching quality jazz, yet alone fusion. One last opinion if I may: I’ve purchased maybe five actual physical CDs this year, but I’ve purchased at least 60 downloadable, complete jazz recordings thus far. How come they don’t come with downloadable digital booklets?

Buy the CD from Amazon.com!

Download it from iTunes

Marcus Miller Interview

Marcus from Marcus MillerJohn Luciano recently interviewed Marcus Miller for the site. Marcus talks about his new release, titled Marcus in the U.S., how he got his sound, the jazz industry today, and what’s coming up.

You can catch Marcus recorded live playing with Herbie Hancock, Joni Mitchell, DJ C-Minus, and others on Yahoo! on April 1. Herbie plays songs from River: The Joni Letters and his classic, signature songs including “Rockit!”

Interview: Marcus Miller

JL: Marcus, first of all, thank you for taking the time to speak with me this afternoon about your latest recording, Marcus. How do you decide when it’s time to enter the studio to record a new project?

MM: Well, for me, because I’ve got so many things going on, the way I decide to start a new one is when I’m finished with the last one. It takes me so long to finish a project because I’m doing movies, I’m all over the world, on the road, so I really have to start early, and it takes me about a year to put it all together.

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Review: Jaco Pastorius Big Band – Word of Mouth Revisited

A scenario I’d like to see at the 2004 Grammy Awards ceremony: The Grammy returns to honoring jazz during its primetime special. Some of modern jazz’s best known bassists are playing a tribute to Jaco Pastorius. After thunderous applause, the award for Best Large Ensemble Album is announced. The winner: The Jaco Pastorius Big Band – Word of Mouth Revisited.

Word of Mouth Revisited covers Jaco’s compositions from his early days with conductor/arranger Peter Graves’ orchestra to his work with Weather Report and Word of Mouth. There’s an unreleased bass recording of Jaco himself on one of his favorite Herbie Hancock compositions “Wiggle Waggle.” It was recorded in the late 70s and the current Jaco Big Band plays the rest of the parts. This fourteen-piece big band is tight. I can’t say enough about the crispness of their sound. It’s easily the best big band I’ve heard in some time. The thirteen arrangements – by Graves (who hired Jaco in 1971 for his orchestra), Larry Warrilow (Jaco?s longtime friend and collaborator), and Jaco are excellent.

Then there is the who’s who of bass players: Marcus Miller, Christian McBride, Jimmy Haslip, Victor Wooten, Victor Bailey, Gerald Veasley, Richard Bona, and Jaco’s nephew, David Pastorius all contribute to this recording. It goes without saying that the rhythm on this CD is unbelievable. The bassists obviously seem inspired and actually seem to exceed their already formidable skills. Drummer Mark Griffith deserves special recognition for his excellent work on driving the tempo. Griffith is a standout on a CD where every single musician is worthy of note.

Whether you know everything Jaco or not, Word of Mouth Revisited is a release any modern jazz fan will want in his or her collection. It’s this year’s most welcome surprise.

News Bits: Marcus Miller, Stanley Jordan, Kirk Whalum

Marcus Miller is releasing what he calls an “Official Bootleg CD”. The Ozell Tapes features performances from Marcus’ 2002 tour with no remixing or editing. Having seen a show on the tour, I can guarantee you that finding this CD will be worth your while. It should already be out in Japan and will be in Europe and available for ordering online later this week. For more information and updates, check out Edi Weitz’s MarcusMiller.com site, where Marcus contributes frequently. . . Stanley Jordan‘s 1985 release, Magic Touch, was certified gold on August 27, meaning that it has sold over 500,000 copies. . . The jazz/gospel fusion that Kirk Whalum displayed on his underappreciated Gospel According to Jazz, Chapter One will be back for a second volume. The Gospel According to Jazz, Chapter Two will be in stores on October 29. George Duke and Paul Jackson, Jr. return and are joined by Jonathan Butler. The CD was recorded live and KirkWhalum.com reports that a DVD/VHS version should be coming soon.