Marcus Miller

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This cat is always on the move!

We welcome Marcus Miller,
one of the most consistent producers, songwriters, musicians on this planet! The hottest Bass Guitarist in the game, drops by The Urban Music & spends a quick minute sharing his time with Terrill in regards to the recent release of his project “Marcus” & the upcoming of the 1st annual Playboy Jazz Cruise in January of 2009!!


TERRILL:     Hey guys, the Urban Music is in the house. We got the legendary bassist of all time – the minute you hear it the pluck of the bass, no doubt. You know it’s Marcus Miller. What’s up brother? 

MARCUS:     What’s going on Terrill, how you feeling man? 

TERRILL:     I’m feeling good, man. I’m feeling real good, how about you? 

MARCUS:     Man, I’m doing great. It’s a beautiful day man in California. I’m just enjoying the weather! 

TERRILL:     Oh man, and with the weather all hot as it is, what other way to kind of enjoy the weather, listening to your music, listening. (Laugh) 

MARCUS:     (Laugh), Yeah man, yes! 

TERRILL:     Listening to the strong bass-line grooves, the song writing, the production, I mean awesome material, Marcus. I mean on behalf of the crew and myself at The Urban Music – hey man welcome and thank you for that space of quality time with us today. 

MARCUS:     Ah thank you man, it’s good to be here with y’all.  

TERRILL:     Thank you brother. First and foremost, we want to ask you this major question – what’s up with “Marcus, the LP,” man? That CD is baddd!!!

MARCUS:     (Laughs). Well, we finally got it out & it took a little while. Looking for the right distributor, and we finally hooked up with Concord Records, so I’m really happy about that. They’re really excited about it and it got a lot of different kinds of music on it. I’m letting it hang out more.  I said ‘I got to open it up a little bit’, I got to add some R&B, some jazz, some spoken word, a little bit of everything and just really show people what I’m all about. So that’s why we called it “Marcus”. I’m everywhere I’m at because I’m hoping that people can feel it. 

TERRILL:     Hey, you got some special names on there, some notable names – Lalah Hathaway, just a beautiful vocalist all in her own right. You got Corrine Bailey Rae, doing a cover together of Denise Williams classic hit “Free”. 

MARCUS:     Yes, Do you remember that song? 

TERRILL:     That song was tight Back In The Day! 

MARCUS:     Yeah man! 

TERRILL:     And tight again when you did it, so. … 

MARCUS:     Thanks man. We got Keb’ Mo’, singing some funky blues on there. And David Sanborn is playing saxophone on a couple of songs and Tom Scott from way back. It’s nice, so I got some really great musicians to help me out.  I’m really happy about it. Particularly having Lalah on there. She and I have been working together on and off for maybe 15 years now. So I’m really glad to see that she’s starting to blow up. People are really starting to check for her and it’s really overdue. And Corrine Bailey Rae…..

TERRILL:     Aw man. 

MARCUS:     ….She blessed us with her beautiful voice on the album. We can listen to that and take some comfort. 

TERRILL:     Oh absolutely. Going back a little bit to some contributors, like David Sanborn – man your music transcends time. Let’s not just talk about your new album but, some of the material that you put out that had R&B grooves and David Sanborn, one of the finest contemporary jazz sax players ever.  

MARCUS:     Yes, He was ridiculous man. I’ll never forget the first time I heard him in person. Like standing in a room next to him, you’ve never heard a saxophone like that. It made like your toes shake. (Laughs). The sound is so strong and he’s just like a little guy. It just blows your mind. The contrast – you know what I mean? When I met him, I was in the house band for Saturday Night Live, and David was in the band at the same time. We would play music for the commercial. Right before they got ready to go to commercial break, you would hear a little bit of us playing. And David and I got to be cool then. I started to play some songs that I was writing around that period & said ‘hey man, I want to record these’. That began a long relationship. I was writing these compositions and eventually producing him and after twenty-five years. We were doing this contemporary jazz thing back in the day when no one else was really doing it. You know drum machines. We were using modern R&B along with the jazz. Turn on the radio now and to hear everybody doing it, some thirty years later. It’s a trip!


TERRILL:     It’s funny you said that, ’cause that music back then – you can put it back on again. It blends with today’s contemporary/smooth jazz music.  

MARCUS:     Yes, exactly.  I worked with Sanborn, I worked with Joe Sample from the Crusaders, Bob James, Grover Washington Jr…. those are all the innovators of that music. 

TERRILL:     That’s right. That means you have to be part of that innovation yourself. I mean your music, I mean goll-lee, with David Sanborn. Man, the crooning delight, the ultimate romantic ballads. Some of that stuff you touched in Luther Vandross’ career. 

MARCUS:     Ah yes man. He was really a special individual. I can’t believe he’s been gone for a couple of years now. He had a beautiful voice. But he had more than just a beautiful voice. He had a beautiful concept about music. He really wanted to find those notes that really got to your bones. You know what I mean? He wasn’t about just singing hard and singing riffs. He really wanted to touch . He was so good at doing that. He could make a crowd of 50,000 people completely quiet – where you couldn’t hear a pin drop. Waiting for his next line – when he was going to sing. It’s was just beautiful to watch him do his thing.  

TERRILL:     It’s just inspiring to hear that coming from you Marcus. Which leads to this immediate question – based on some of the notables we talked about and previous legends…, who influenced you? What influenced your style, your musical style? Your taste for the bass? everything about Marcus Miller? 

MARCUS:     Well I started in the ’70’s & when everyone was really experimenting with mixing music together, different styles of music together. One of the first groups I heard that I really flipped over was called Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters. And I heard that music and it had everything that I liked in music. The beat was funky, the solos were jazz improvisation, the concept was experimental – mixing this, mixing that. African overtones. Man it was just like he just took everything he liked from every kind of music, in just one kind of soup and that really inspired me. Then I heard Earth Wind and Fire. They were really doing the same kind of thing. More on the R&B side, but they had the Brazilian element, they had jazz, everything in their music. So those guys really inspired me. On the bass, I heard Stanley Clark. He was doing his thing and Larry Graham was a huge influence on me – plucking or slapping that bass. So you know, Stevie Wonder. All those kinds of music! Those 70s. I really got inspired man. 

TERRILL:     Stanley Clark  is Supreme! We had a chance to interview him and I mean he really graced us with his presence.  

MARCUS:     Oh man, yes. And he was the first one who really stepped out there with the bass guitar and said ‘I’m going to run this stuff with just my bass’. Usually, it’s with guitar players or keyboard players or horn players or singers, but Stanley Clark – really, he was on the guitar when I heard him. I said ‘oh, I can do that with my instrument – cool’,  And that really inspired me. 

TERRILL:     But Marcus, The minute we hear that pluck of your bass, we KNOW it’s Marcus. 

MARCUS:     That’s good, that’s good. (laughs) That’s what you want man. You hear four notes, and you say okay that’s him. That’s what you aim for. 

TERRILL:     Exactly! There’s no way around it! Others out there try. God bless ‘em, but the minute you step in – that’s Marcus! ‘Ya’ll Need to Step Off!!  Back up – create some space, here comes Marcus y’all! You need to back up! (announcement & laughs) 

MARCUS:     That’s cool man. When we met at the Playboy Festival man, that was a nice time. I remember that show last summer. 

TERRILL:     Oh it was tight! And what was also inspiring, because I had interviewed Malcolm Jamal Warner, seeing him come up on the stage and pull up a chair. Remember that? 

MARCUS:     Yes, I remember that. And I made him come on the stage and jam with us for the last song.  

TERRILL:     Yes I saw that. 

MARCUS:     He had that look. His eyes got big like – man I said play, instead of sitting in a chair and watching. But it’s nice to see like Malcolm who had a career and still has a career in acting and he’s so turned on to the music that he keeps himself humble to keep learning and growing. That’s what it’s all about.  

TERRILL:     Absolutely and that humility showed when he went on stage with that chair. 

MARCUS:     Yeah, yeah, yeah – I don’t care, I got to check it out. 

TERRILL:     Exactly,  I mean you have people, inspiring musicians and you take note of that. 

MARCUS:     Oh yes, absolutely.  

TERRILL:     Don’t get too prideful. Learn from the best! And speaking of the Playboy, you got that big Jazz Cruise coming up, January 2009?


MARCUS:     Yes. 2009, I’m hosting the first Playboy Jazz Cruise and I just tell people, you might think of a cruise as one thing ’cause we all saw TV shows of the cruises and it was kind of corny. But when you get all the best jazz artists in the world and you get that 2,000 people who love jazz all together, who absolutely love it, love it enough to be immersed in that music. It’s an unbelievable experience. The ship is like a hotel, a Vegas hotel on water. And you’re down in that Caribbean and you hear Herbie Hancock and Dianne Reeves and James Moody and Roy Hargrove and Kirk Whalum. It’s just going to be a really beautiful experience. And I encourage everybody to consider it, because it’s really, really a nice thing. 

TERRILL:     Cool. I can’t wait man. You got a really big line up here. Herbie Hancock, I mean the list goes on! Dianne Reeves…. 

MARCUS:     And we have Keb’ Mo’ to show up too, he don’t even like boats. But …(laughs) 

TERRILL:     Say that again? 

MARCUS:     And when he heard who was going to be there, Keb’ Mo’ said, “Alright man, I think I’m goin’ have to come too.” So I think it’s going to be nice. 

TERRILL:     And you know you got Poncho Sanchez in the house! 

MARCUS:     Yes, Poncho Sanchez is going to do his thing and it’s really nice. We have a young kid that I met at Berkley School of Music, I think he’s about 19 years old by the name of Alex Hahn, who plays the saxophone and he’s blowing people’s mind! A little unassuming kid. He puts that horn to his mouth and it breathes fire! 

TERRILL:     Alex Hahn? 

MARCUS:     H-A-H-N, exactly. 

TERRILL:     Oh wow. I look forward to hearing about him! 

MARCUS:     I’m excited man! 

TERRILL:     And that’s one of the young cats…. 

MARCUS:     Young cats exactly. 

TERRILL:     Coming up underneath your wings. 

MARCUS:     < /font>Exactly. So we got that and we got James Moody, who’s like a living legend. Singing, “There I go, there I go, there I go, there I go”. That’s him, that’s his solo – that they wrote those words to. So, we got James Moody. So it’s going to be a really nice, kind of group of musicians. 

TERRILL:     We look forward to that.  I know that it’s got to be exciting, cuz it’s first stepper for Playboy and for you to be a host, that’s got to be supreme.  I know you’re bringing flavor.  

MARCUS:     I got to make sure that I do it right, you know what I mean. It’s really going to be a nice. … especially because once the people do their official performance, then I will start trying to find – create jam sessions to see if I could get them to do something that people have never heard before. You know, get this guy to play with that guy – stuff that you wouldn’t expect, so. … a lot of interesting things will go down there. 

TERRILL:     Cool, cool. And then before that event, you’re going to be touring soon with promoting your ‘Marcus’ album? 

MARCUS:     Yes. We’re taking off this month in April to the East Coast – New York, D.C. Baltimore, in Upstate New York, Clevelend and the West Coast – Seattle, L.A. all over the place. So we look forward to bringing it to the people. 

TERRILL:     What’s this I heard buzzing around that you’re going to be collaborating pretty soon with another good bass player – Victor Wooten? 

MARCUS:     Yes. Victor Wooten and I have decided we were going to do a collaboration together. But it’s not just me and Victor? Its also Stanley Clark. It’s me, Victor and Stanley and we’re working on the album as we speak. So we’re trying to get that out this summer as well. 

TERRILL:     Oh man, that’s going to be awesome!! 

MARCUS:     There’s going to be a lot of plucking, bass plucking going on. 

TERRILL:     Exactly. That’s going to be a crazy album. What kind of, how are you guys categorizing this? Is it a secret or is it going to be a combination of jazz, R&B … ? 

MARCUS:     Yeah, exactly. It’s going to be a combination of jazz, R&B, like a mix. Each one of us has his kind of different take on music, so we’re just going to make sure that everyone have an equal input so that you can get plenty of everybody in there. 

TERRILL:     Oh yeah, that’s going to be … that’s a bassist delight! 

MARCUS:     Yes, there’s going to be a lot of bass! 

TERRILL:     It’s going to be a lot of bass and somebody needs a subwoofer. 

MARCUS:     Yes, yes….. right, exactly! 

TERRILL:     Make sure those speaker cabinets are in check.

MARCUS:     Yes. I wrote a song called “Thunder,” so that’s what it’s going to be. 

TERRILL:     “Thunder.” 

MARCUS:     Yes. 

TERRILL:     Aw man!! 

MARCUS:     I’ve been working on that now. 

TERRILL:     I need to go get my cabinets checked before … 

MARCUS:     Exactly. Tighten them up a little bit. 

TERRILL:     Yes. I can’t go out like that. But naw, hey man, I do appreciate so much of your time. I look forward to catching you at one of those concerts. You’re going to be back here on the West Coast too right? 

MARCUS:     Yes, where are you?  

TERRILL:     I’m in Southern California. 

MARCUS:     So, we’re going to be in L.A., we’ll be in San Diego. So the end of April in the 20s, sometime during that time we’re going to be in this area. 

TERRILL:     Okay, okay. Look for me, I’m going to be right there. 

MARCUS:     Yeas, come on man. We’re going to have a good time! 

TERRILL:     I’m going to go back there and laugh with you a couple of times and check out a few things and the whole nine. Hey brother, thank you so much, Marcus from the bottom of our heart man – not only do we say thank you for the time that’s spent in the interview. But man, your name should be a household name period. 

MARCUS:     (Laughs), Alright. 

TERRILL:     I mean really, seriously man. That’s being serious about music. Your compositions that we’re still talking about music – that’s being played on radio dials, and satellite stations. The old school players still playing you out. Blasting the stuff in their cars. 

MARCUS:     Yes, yes. It’s cool. 

TERRILL:     That’s Marcus Miller y’all, that’s Marcus. 

MARCUS:     That’s how it’s suppose to work man. You don’t want it to die out. I hear Luther Vandross “For You to Love,” . Man it’s one of my favorite songs that he ever did. 

TERRILL:     Mine too. 

MARCUS:     But people don’t talk about it lot. But put that record on – it’s not about a time period, it’s timeless. 

TERRILL:     You sound like you really miss him too. 

MARCUS:     Oh yeah, he was my boy. He was funny too. People don’t know how funny he was. And it’s funny, because Miles Davis was funny too. You don’t really hear about that from him either. But man, I mean, he’ll have you dying. I’m not just talking about smiling, you’d be dying. You know, when your face hurt. That’s how Luther was man, yes he’s sorely missed. 

TERRILL:     Wow, wow. I forgot to ask you. Is there a particular MARCUS out there now in today’s generation that you kinda like, feeling their flow? 

MARCUS:     Yeah man. Let’s see. I like Chris Brown. Man he really surprised me.  I did the score to “This Christmas” which was a movie that came out over the holidays past. And Chris was there singing an old school song called “Try a Little Tenderness.” And he surprised me. He did a really great job on that, so I got new respect for him. I love Corrine Bailey Rae, I love Musiq, he goes by the name of Musiq Soul Child. But I love his music. But I’m waiting for Me’shell Ndegeo’cello to come out with something new. I’m waiting for D’Angelo to come out of retirement or hibernation and ah … 

TERRILL:     Is he coming out of retirement? 

MARCUS:     I don’t know, I’m just putting it out there. See if I can make it happen. 

TERRILL:     Let’s both put it out there. Yo D’Angelo, where you at brother? 

MARCUS:     Yes, come on! We’re waiting for you bro! 

TERRILL:     Come on back brotha!. 

MARCUS:     Yeah. 

TERRILL:     He drop those albums on us man and screwed us up. 

MARCUS:     Yes, exactly, exactly! So, that’s who I’m feeling man, you know. I like, I love everything that Timberland does on the top, on the hip hop tip and I think he’s very talented.

 TERRILL:     Yes, he’s very innovative man. 

MARCUS:     Oh yes, yes. I’m really inspired by him.

 TERRILL:     That is so cool, man. Have you thought about working with any of todays hip hop artists? I know you have – Jay-Z right? 

MARCUS:     DJ Quick man, did some stuff with Queen Latifah, stuff with L.L. Cool J. and then Snoop Dogg, I’m on a Snoop record. And Jay-Z. They sampled one of my things. Jay-Z and Mary J. Blige called “Can’t Knock the Hustle.” 

TERRILL:     Oh yeah.? 

MARCUS:     So, definitely man I’m looking to interact with some hip hoppers. 

TERRILL:     Right, right. I mean there’s too much there to be given to them. 

MARCUS:     Q-Tip is my man, that boy there is badd! 

TERRILL:     Q-Tip (from Tribe Called Quest)? 

MARCUS:     Yes. Mos Def is so talented man. He might not even make records anymore. I don’t know. I see him in movies more than I hear him in records. 

TERRILL:     Same here. And…  

MARCUS:     He’s so talented man.

 TERRILL:     I totally agree with you! .cause when he goes freestyle, IT’S OVER man! 

MARCUS:     It’s ridiculous! 

TERRILL:     He’ got a serious skill and you’re right man, his career in the movies has blossomed up. 

MARCUS:     Yes, I’m not mad at him, you know what I mean. But, I hope that he doesn’t stop making music and if he does, he’s going to hear from me. (laughs) 

TERRILL:     (laughs) That’s right! It’s in the interview so don’t worry. 

MARCUS:     Yeah good! Alright, good! 

TERRILL:     That’s what I’m saying. I sat there listening to Mos Def one day and his lyrics are strong.    

MARCUS:     Ah man, yes. The way of putting his ideas together, which is the whole thing. 

TERRILL:     Yes. I caught him doing something for my man here who had that show on the Comedy Channel – Dave Chappelle. 

MARCUS:     Chappelle – oh absolutely. 

TERRILL:     Remember when he kicked a flow (rap)  in the car with Chapelle?  

MARCUS:     I remember that! And Dave was driving right … 

TERRILL:     Right! 

MARCUS:     Yeah, that was fly! 

TERRILL:     That was fly. I was like dang! 

MARCUS:     Oh yeah, he’s just ridiculously talented man. So we’re just putting it out there – we need a record from D’Angelo, one from Mos Def you know and if they don’t do it, I’m going to have to go find them and help them out. 

TERRILL:     Let me put it like this – you can contact Marcus Miller here at The Urban Music  

MARCUS:     Give me a call, I’ll get some tracks ready for y’all. 

TERRILL:     Exactly man. Be a bass line behind those guys man. 

MARCUS:     Exactly. 

TERRILL:     That’s some serious bass!

MARCUS:     Exactly. 

TERRILL:     Well, hey man and once again too – congratulations on your signing to Concord. 

MARCUS:     Oh thank you, man. Yes, they’re doing a great job. 

TERRILL:     Sweet deuces. 

MARCUS:     Oh yeah, we’re getting a lot of buzz on the album. People are really excited about it.  I’m just going to try to keep moving forward. 

TERRILL:     Well let’s keep moving forward together my brother. And I look forward to seeing you when you come back here, again that performance is going to be in L.A..  

MARCUS:     We’re going to be in L.A. at Catalina’s Jazz Club May 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. At Catalina’s, May 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. 

TERRILL:     Alright cool. Catalina’s in Hollywood. 

MARCUS:     In Hollywood , Yes. 

TERRILL:     I’ll see you at one of those dates. I’ll make arrangements. Brother, thank you so much for your time. I know you’re a very busy man. You’re just all over the place. 

MARCUS:     No problem man. it’s a pleasure to talk to you. 

TERRILL:     Likewise man. I’ll talk to you soon. 

MARCUS:     All right take care. 

TERRILL:     See you later.
 MARCUS:     Bye bye.