marcus miller
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"Jazz Monthly Feature Interview" Marcus Miller

marcus millerSmitty:  When you talk about bass players, you must include my next guest.  He is a master of the thick strings, he’s a Grammy award winning artist, he’s just released a fantastic DVD that’s called Master of All Trades, and he knows how to break you off a piece of that.  If that’s not enough, he is the host a jazz great cruise in the summer of 2007.  Please welcome the incredible and amazing Mr. Marcus Miller.  Marcus, how you doin’?

Marcus Miller (MM):  What’s going on, Smitty?  How you doing, man?

Smitty:  I’m doing great, man. What’s up with you?

MM:  Man, I’m doing good.  It’s nice to be on and it’s a pleasure to talk to you.

Smitty:  Likewise, the pleasure’s all mine as well. Thank you. I’ve got to tell you how much I am totally digging this great DVD.  Now, I’m going to say this because in 2006 I have seen a multitude of DVD’s and they’re all great, but I’m gonna get in trouble for this, I know, but this is the best DVD I have seen all year.

MM:  Wow, thank you, man.  Nice of you to say that.

Smitty: You’re welcome and I mean that from the heart because the quality of the video, the camera work, the entire production and I must give some props to American Treasures and the Knitting Factory for what they did.  They did a masterful job.

MM:  Yeah, yeah. They did.

Smitty:  How did the whole idea of the DVD come up?

MM:  I met a guy named John Cross, who said he was into making videos. It took me a while to take him seriously, but he kept coming at me for about a year, saying “Marcus, I really have a great idea for you on a DVD” and finally I said “Look, if you’re serious about it, let’s start talking seriously.”  And we did, we had a gig at the Knitting Factory in L.A., which is a nice club, and he took it from there.  He just filmed the show and he took it another step further; He talked to me for a while and then went with a camera and interviewed everybody in my life.  I mean, from when I first learned how to play the bass, to my family, Roberta Flack and Bill Withers, Stanley Clarke, Herbie Hancock…it was unbelievable….so he really did a fantastic job.

Smitty:  Yes he did and I saw Luther Vandross on there….

MM:  It may have been Luther’s last interview.  I was working on Luther’s last album, the Dance With My Father album….

Smitty:  Right.

MM:  And John said “Look, you’re working with Luther.  You think Luther would mind if I stick a camera in his face?”  And I said “Well, he probably would, but since it’s for me, he’ll probably do it.”  And he did, so I’m just honored, just honored that people would sit there and talk about me. It’s a little uncomfortable to watch the DVD because everybody’s talking about me.

Smitty:  (Laughs.)

MM:  But it’s really nice.

Smitty:  Yes it is.  And they didn’t just talk about you.

MM:  (Laughs.)

Smitty:  Man, they praised you.  I mean, they put you on such a great level in terms of your musicianship, who you are as a person, and I think it was beautifully done, and my hat’s off to John for the extraordinary job he did.

MM:  Yeah, yeah, mine is too.  (Both laugh.)  It was very well done.

Smitty:  Yeah, it was great to see your dad on there and he talked about your grandfather and those humble beginnings.

MM:  And nobody can mistake my dad because I look just like him.

Smitty:  Yes you do.

MM:  When he walks into the club, they don’t even ask who he is.  They just find him a good seat. “Hey, Mr. Miller.”  (Both laugh.)

Smitty:  Man, that is so cool.  And, not only was this such great production of the DVD, but the band…you couldn’t have chosen better musicians to do this DVD because these cats put on a masterful show.

MM:  Yeah, it was a really good band.  Poogie Bell played drums and Patches Stewart was on trumpet, Roger Byam was on saxophone, and keyboards was Bruce Flowers and Dean Brown played guitar.

Smitty:  Yeah, man.

MM:  Just a really good band.

Smitty:  Yes it was, and what a selection of songs!  Whoo!  One of my favorites was the Miles (Davis) tune “So What?” 

MM:  Right.  (Laughs.)

Smitty:  That was a smoking track and then you followed it up with “Scoop,” and the audience just went crazy.  I’m just a little mad at you because I didn’t know you were doing this and I would’ve loved to have been there.  (Laughs.)

MM:  Oh, yeah, yeah.  Well, you know, the first one’s always difficult because you’re just working so hard to make it happen and then everyone’s on your case.  “Man, how come I wasn’t invited?”  So the next one, man, I’m gonna make sure everybody gets invited. We’ll make sure we do it right.

Smitty:  I totally understand. We’ll talk a little bit more about the DVD, but I don’t wanna give too much away because I think everybody needs to go out and get this DVD because there are too many reasons why you should add this one to your collection.

MM:  (Laughs.)

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