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Marcus Miller

Miller in Ancienne, Belgium, 2007
Background information
Birth name William Henry Marcus Miller Jr.
Born June 14, 1959 (1959-06-14) (age 50)
Brooklyn, New York, United States
Genres Jazz, jazz fusion, R&B, rock, funk
Occupations Musician, Composer, producer
Instruments Bass, double bass, guitar, vocals, saxophone, clarinet, keyboards, recorder
Years active 1975–present
Website Marcus
Notable instruments
Fender Jazz Bass

Marcus Miller (born June 14, 1959) is an American jazz musician, composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist.

Miller is best known as a bassist, working with trumpeter Miles Davis, singer Luther Vandross, and saxophonist David Sanborn as well as maintaining a prolific solo career. Miller is classically trained as a clarinetist and also plays keyboards, saxophone and guitar.


Life and career

Early life

Marcus Miller was born and raised in New York. The first knowledge of music theory and practical lessons he received from his father, the organist and director of the church choir. Miller's first musical instrument was a block-flute. Later, still in school, he began to absorb B-flat clarinet, playing in school band and in New York All-City band. After high school, Marcus goes to the High School of Music and Art (High School of Music and Art) as a clarinetist. He wants to continue his musical education at the Conservatory, but not sure of the correctness of the chosen instrument. So he goes to college with no musical expertise - Queens College.

Miller first took up the bass when he was thirteen years old and playing in local funk-group. He mastered it by himself, using the knowledge and skills gained from his clarinet studies.


Professional career

Miller at the Paradiso in Amsterdam, 2007

Miller spent approximately 15 years performing as a sideman or session musician and observing how great bandleaders operated. During that time he also did a lot of arranging and producing. During the late seventies he was a member of the Saturday Night Live band from 1978 through 1979. He played on over 500 recordings, including those by Luther Vandross, Grover Washington Jr., Roberta Flack, Carly Simon, McCoy Tyner, Bryan Ferry and Billy Idol. He won the "Most Valuable Player" award, (awarded by NARAS to recognize studio musicians) three years in a row and was subsequently awarded "player emeritus" status and retired from eligibility. In the nineties, Miller began to record his own records, he had to put a band together to take advantage of touring opportunities.

Miller's proficiency on his main instrument, the bass guitar, is generally well-regarded. Not only has Miller been involved in the continuing development of a technique known as "slapping", particularly his "thumb" technique, but his fretless bass technique has also served as an inspiration to many, and has taken the fretless bass into musical situations and genres previously unexplored with the electric bass of any description. The influences of some of the previous generation of electric bass players, such as Larry Graham, Stanley Clarke and Jaco Pastorius, are audible in Miller's playing. Early in his career, Miller was accused of being simply imitative of Pastorius, but has since more fully integrated the latter's methodology into his own sound.

Miller has an extensive discography, and tours frequently and widely in Europe and Japan.

Between 1988 and 1990 he appeared in the first season and again toward the end as both the Musical Director and also as the house band bass player in The Sunday Night Band during the two seasons of the acclaimed music performance program Sunday Night on NBC late-night television.[1]

As a composer, Miller wrote "Tutu" for Miles Davis, a piece that defined Davis' career in the late 1980s, and was the title song of Davis' album, Tutu, upon which Miller wrote all the songs with only two exceptions, and one of those was co-written with Davis. He also composed "Chicago Song" for David Sanborn and co-wrote "'Til My Baby Comes Home", "It's Over Now", "For You to Love", and "Power of Love" for Luther Vandross. Miller also wrote "Da Butt", which was featured in Spike Lee's School Daze.

Grammy Awards

Miller has won numerous Grammy Awards as a producer for Miles Davis, Luther Vandross, David Sanborn, Bob James, Chaka Khan and Wayne Shorter. He won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in 1991, for Luther Vandross' "Power of Love" and in 2001 he won for Best Contemporary Jazz Album for his fourth solo instrumental album, M2.

Miller currently is bandleader of his own band, which strives to remain faithful to the concepts of improvisation and innovation in jazz-based music that is perhaps more accessible to different audiences. His concerts and recorded works are often regarded as intensely creative and therefore appealing to serious musicians. In 1997 Miller played bass and bass clarinet in a band called Legends, featuring Eric Clapton (guitars and vocals), Joe Sample (piano), David Sanborn (alto sax) and Steve Gadd (drums). It was an 11-date tour of major jazz festivals in Europe.

In addition to his recording and performance career, Miller has established a parallel career as a film score composer. He has written numerous scores for films featuring: Eddie Murphy, L.L. Cool J, Chris Rock, Matthew Perry, Samuel L. Jackson and others.

Marcus composed the musical score for the Chris Rock-created sit-com, Everybody Hates Chris, now in syndication on Nick-At Nite.

Instruments and gear

Fender currently produces a Marcus Miller signature Fender Jazz Bass in four- and five-string versions.[1]


Solo period (1982–present)

Luther Vandross Period

  • 1983: "Busy Body"
  • 1985: "The Night I Fell In Love"
  • 1985: "'Til My Baby Comes Home"
  • 1985: "It's over now"
  • 1986: "I Really Didn't Mean It"
  • 1986: "She Won't Talk To Me"
  • 1986: "Give me the Reason"
  • 1987: "Stop to love"
  • 1987: "See Me"
  • 1988: "Luther In Love - Megamix"
  • 1988: "Any Love"
  • 1989: "The Best Of Love"
  • 1989: "Come back"
  • 1991: "The Rush"
  • 1991: "Power of Love / Love Power (Uno Clio & Colin and Carl Remix)"
  • 1991: "Power of Love / Love Power"
  • 1991: "Power of Love"
  • 1993: "Never Let Me Go"
  • 1993: "Heaven knows"
  • 1995: "This is Christmas"
  • 1995: "Power of Love / Love Power (The Frankie Knuckles Mixes)"
  • 1996: "Your Secret Love"
  • 1996: "I Can Make It Better"
  • 1998: "I Know"
  • 2001: "Luther Vandross"
  • 2003: "Dance With My Father"
  • 2007: "Love Luther"

David Sanborn period (1975–2000)

  • 1977: Lovesongs
  • 1980: Hideaway
  • 1981: Voyeur
  • 1981: As We Speak
  • 1982: Backstreet
  • 1984: Straight to the Heart
  • 1987: Change of Heart
  • 1988: Close-Up
  • 1991: Another Hand
  • 1992: Upfront
  • 1994: Hearsay
  • 1995: Pearls
  • 1996: Songs from the Night Before
  • 1999: Inside

Miles Davis period (1980–1990)

The Jamaica Boys period (1986–1990)

  • 1987: The Jamaica Boys
  • 1989: The Jamaica Boys II: J. Boys

Film Scores


  1. ^ Sunday Night episodes #104 (1988), #121 (1989)
  2. ^ Levine, Doug (25 March 2008). "Bassist Marcus Miller Surrounds Himself With New Generation of R&B Stars on 'Marcus'". VOA News (Voice of America). Retrieved 03 January 2009. 

External links


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