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Renaissance

4.7 out of 5 stars 95 customer reviews

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Audio CD, August 7, 2012
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Editorial Reviews

A generation is roughly defined as a period of about 30 years. 30 years ago in the early 80s - America was rolling with Ronald Reagan at the wheel and his conservative back to family values tenets. A similar traditionalism was also being adopted by several prominent up-and-coming jazz musicians. While most of the then-young flock was looking back, Marcus Miller was looking ahead. By the middle of that decade in 1986, Marcus - the musician, composer and producer - was at the helm of one of the most impactful modern jazz masterpieces of the era with some futuristic roots music he composed for the legendary Miles Davis entitled Tutu.

Now with Renaissance in 2012, Marcus Miller surveys the landscape of not just music but society as a whole. In the same profound way that anointed gospel-soul singer Sam Cooke prophesized 50 years before in 1963, Miller feels that a change is gonna come. And just as with Tutu, he is ahead of the storm with Renaissance, fortified by a team of hungry young players that includes trumpeters Sean Jones and Maurice Brown, alto saxophonist Alex Han, drummer Louis Cato, guitarists Adam Agati and Adam Rogers, and keyboardist Kris Bowers along with veteran keys wizards Federico Gonzalez Peña and Bobby Sparks, Miller is creating the soundtrack for this musical, cultural and spiritual revolution.

I feel like a page is turning, Miller muses. The last of our heroes are checking out and we are truly entering a new era. Politically, things have polarized and are coming to a head. Musically, we ve got all these cool ways to play and share music - MP3 files, internet radio and satellite radio - but the music is not as revolutionary as the media. It s time for a rebirth.

Renaissance finds Miller offering up an especially emotive 13-song collection that includes eight richly inspired original compositions that swing from a tip of the porkpie to the CTI Records sound of the `70s ( CEE-TEE-EYE ) to an introspective and ultimately hope-filled rumination about the island off the coast of Dakar in Africa known as Gorée (Go-ray). Renaissance also includes five cover songs that canvas works by soul-jazz culture band WAR, new wave-soul starlet Janelle Monáe, New York jazz dignitary Weldon Irvine, Brazilian musical ambassador Ivan Lins and Christian composer Luther Mano Hanes. Though the CD primarily features Miller s smokin new band, it also features special guest vocalists Dr. John, Rubén Blades and Gretchen Parlato.

Renaissance is a word that resonates on a lot of different levels for me, Miller explains. It s about getting back to the essential aspects of art. I m focusing less on production and more on composition, so this is a very clear album for me. People have often called me a Renaissance Man. I always understood that to mean someone who s got their creative hands in a lot of different things but not on a surface level. Like Leonardo da Vinci: he wasn t just dabbling in things, he was going deep. I would really like to be that kind of guy. Over the past three decades of my career, I ve been blessed to produce a wide variety of music that means something to people. I didn t just do some clichés in different genres, like a guy who says he can speak 20 languages but all he s saying is how are you and can I get something to eat. The real challenge is can you communicate something of substance to the people through these languages that you speak?
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Digital Booklet: Renaissance
Digital Booklet: Renaissance
Album Only

Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 7, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Concord Jazz
  • ASIN: B008BGNKIO
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,787 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Here we have the new album by master electric bassist & multi instrumentalist Marcus Miller. I'v been a fan of Marcus since his album Tales & in my opinion this album is his best work yet even topping the awesome grammy winning M2. The music follows Marcus's regular formula which is to mix originals & hip cover material usually from the past with instrumental & vocal tunes. Marcus follows that formula to the letter getting one of my favorite female vocalists Gretchen Parlato to guest along side Rueben Blades on track 5 Ivan Lins "Brazilian Wedding Song". Dr. John does a grooving version of Janelle Monae's hit "Tightrope"on track 12. The rest of the music is made up of instrumentals written by Miller with some very cool covers given Miller's signature urban jazz funk treatment.

The musicians are some of music's finest with a big portion of the music handled by Marcus's road band with Louis Cato on drums, Kris Bowers on piano & Fender Rhodes, Adam Agati on electric guitar, Alex Han on alto sax & Maurice Brown on trumpet.

There are also guest appearances by Adam Rogers on acoustic & electric guitar on five tracks who's one of NYC's best jazz guitarists. Trumpeter Sean Jones appears on four tracks including track 9 Wendel Irwing's Mr. Clean made famous by trumpeter Freddie Hubbard.

Here's a few musical moments that are personal high points. The album opens with another potential bass anthem "Detroit" like "Power" was to M2.
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I have followed the career of Marcus Miller since his early days when he collaborated with David Sanborn, and he is one of the most talented bassist on the planet. This CD is, by far, THE BEST work he has every created and serves as proof that the sky is certainly not the limit for Marcus Miller! Like a fine wine, he just gets better and better.
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Firstly let me echo the sentiments of Jonathan Guarriello by saying this is agruably Marcus' best work since M2, and should merit a Grammy nomination if not win the award outright. Moving along...

If you're a longtime fan of Marcus Miller's work you have to feel that he's been keeping this project in his musical backpocket for quite sometime, waiting for the right group of musicians to come along. Well, wait no longer. Personally I feel that MM could have named this record 'Exhumation'; because it has unearthed a series of musical expressions that MM has implied at times, but not actually expressed on previous albums.

In an interview years ago I recall Marcus saying to the effect that 'one of the challenges of being a bandleader/MD is trying to catch the players when they starting to peak. You try not to over/under rehearse them so they don't get bored or otherwise lose focus.' MM's former employer, Miles Davis, used this idea masterfully for his landmark 'Kind of Blue' album. In my opinion this is what makes 'Renaissance' the most exciting 'bass guitar as a lead instrument' record MM has done since 'The Sun Don't Lie'.

MM is well noted as a high-caliber multi-instrumentist on par with cats like Prince. However, this recording illustrates MM's evolution as a band leader/composer/arranger. He sticking primarily to the bass instruments(electric, fretless, upright, bass clarinet) while intrusting the other instruments to his bandmates. This is also very reminiscent of the aforementioned Mr. Davis. Trust is a underrated aspect of really good bands. To get a group of uber-talented young cats to function so unselfishly but still bring the passion and energy needed for a great performance is remarkable in this 'look and listen to me, me, me' music era.
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When the Fall 2012 issue of "Jazziz" magazine showed up this week, with the 2-CD set that comes with it, I immediately ripped the discs into my Windows Media Player so I could take them with me in my MP3 player. In the process, my eye was drawn to the name; "Yesssss! Marcus has a new album!" I immediately logged onto here and downloaded this album. While I was playing it back I found myself vocally imitating the main hook of "Jekyll & Hyde" and from that I thought up a possible new screen name; "WHOMP-dadle-dadle". I've yet to decide where I'm going to use it. Oh well... I even logged onto the "AMS" site and ordered the entry-level Fender Jazz Bass I'd been putting off ordering. I'm going to learn slap bass if it's the last thing I do and it doesn't really work on the old P-Bass you see in my picture.

I've been a Marcus Miller fan all the way back to the Miles Davis album "Tutu", which appeared on a late night VH-1 series "New Visions" during the '80s. I didn't know at the time that it wasn't so much a Miles album I was listening to as a Marcus Miller album. I'm not going to try and duplicate the efforts of at least one other customer here who's done a song-by-song review--I'd only fall well short. After trying rock bass in my youth and running into a wall erected by stoner musicians who didn't want any dude in the band who won't get high with them, I found funk bass a good fit. James Brown's bassplayer when I was a teenager. Reggae. The hypnotic ostinato that runs through all 12 minutes of the Temps' "Papa Was a Rolling Stone". Vic Wooten's work with Bela Fleck. Parliament/ Funkadelic. Hell, even Sir Paul's solid line in the Beatles' "Come Together"--a song Marcus covers in one of his earlier albums.
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