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  April 2008

Marcus Miller interview page 2

marcus millerSmitty:  Yeah, it was and you cats tore it up in those jam sessions at the hotel.  That was…they were all-nighters.

MM:  Yeah, so we just carried it over—‘cause that’s the way it was on the ship, man, everybody was just jamming in different places, so it was really exciting.  So this time, the next cruise is hosted by Playboy.  It’s gonna be the Playboy Jazz Cruise and it’s gonna leave out of Florida and go down into the Caribbean, and we got Herbie to sign on again and we got Diane Reeves and Poncho Sanchez, and it’s really excellent, man.  I’m really looking forward to doing it again.

Smitty:  Wow! 

MM:  And I convinced Keb’ Mo’, who’s this amazing blues singer.  You know, I don’t know if you know Keb’ but…

Smitty:  Yeah.

MM:  He’s a blues singer who sounds like he comes from Mississippi, although he comes from South Central L.A.  I can’t quite figure it out.

Smitty:  (Laughs.)

MM:  But he said “I don’t like boats.”  I said “Come on, you’ll have a good time.”  (Both laugh.)  So I convinced him to be on there so, man, it’s gonna be a first.  We have Keb’ Mo’ on there as well.

Smitty:  That’s gonna be swingin’, man.  That is gonna be swingin’. 

MM:  It leaves January 2009, but if you go to you can see it.  January 25th is when it leaves, in 2009.

Smitty:  Wow, that’s gonna be an incredible jam.

MM:  Oh yeah, absolutely, absolutely. The thing that’s nice about it is you get to—because these boats, man, they have a huge concert hall right there on the ship.

Smitty:  Right.

MM:  But the thing is, it’s like you get to hear all this music and then you don’t have to worry about where you parked your car afterwards and you don’t have to worry about catching the train.

Smitty:  Hotel.

MM:  You just go up to your room, man.  You’re done or go have a drink and then go to your room.  It’s all good, you know?

Smitty:  Yeah.

MM:  So a nice experience.

Smitty:  It’s sounds like a kickin’, kickin’ cruise.

MM:  Mm-hmm, yeah.

Smitty:  So let’s talk about this record, man, because I am just stoked over this great record.

MM:  Oh, good.

Smitty:  Now, when you did “Blast”…

MM:  Mm-hmm?

Smitty:  That must’ve been a blast because when I heard that first, I said “Man, I know this is gonna be a great record.”  That is a kickin’ track, man.

MM:  I’ve been hearing these musicians starting to experiment with the Eastern sound.

Smitty:  Yeah, love that sound.

MM:  You know, like Indian sound or Turkish sound.  I heard a couple of jazz musicians experimenting with that, I heard a couple of bassists experimenting with it, and I heard like hip hop guys like Timbaland, you know, he was using a lot of the Eastern sound on the record he was producing for people like Beyonce and stuff, and I’m starting to get very intrigued by it. I wanted to see if I could put my own spin on it.  And I was actually even hanging out in Istanbul doing a jazz festival a couple of years ago and bought some Turkish instruments and got inspired by those sounds, so the “Blast” that you hear on the record is a result of that whole kind of thinkin’ and that whole feelin’.

Smitty:  Man, that is a sweet sound.

MM:  But, you know, I couldn’t just go all Eastern.  You know, I had to combine it with some New York, so I said “What can I combine it with?”  I put the beat from “Planet Rock.”  (Both laugh.)  So if you like the “Planet Rock” beat with some, you know, Turkish instruments, that’s what “Blast” is.

Smitty:  Yeah, man.

MM:  With some funky bass, of course.  (Laughs.)

Smitty:  Yeah, and it’s got that funky Eastern sound, you know?

MM:  Right.  I didn’t even know there was one, but now we got one, a funky Eastern sound.

Smitty:  Yeah, man.  (Both laugh.)  And then “The Funk Joint.”  Whoo!

MM:  Yeah, “The Funk Joint,” it’s just really about my band on that one. These are the guys I’ve been traveling with for the last couple of years….Bobby Sparks on keyboards from Dallas, Texas, and Keith Anderson on sax from Dallas, Texas, and Poogie Bell on drums.  Poogie Bell is a drummer who played with Erykah Badu.  He was doing that “boom-boom-clap.” That clap, you know, that she loves so much.  Patches Stewart on trumpet, you know, and Gregoire on the harmonica, so when you hear that song, you really hear the true sound of that group.

Smitty:  Yeah, and Bernard, man, he’s got some juice!

MM:  Bernard’s my boy.  We grew up together, Bernard Wright, he lives in Dallas as well, so I went down to Dallas and got him to put some extra funk on there.

Smitty:  (Laughs.)

MM:  Some pretty stinky, nasty, funky thing.

Smitty:  (Laughs.)  And you gotta talk to me about the track, “Strum,” man, you know, take me there.

MM:  Well, “Strum,” you know, I was just playing the bass, man, and every once in a while I like to write music in my head.  I don’t even wanna touch an instrument, I wanna imagine it in my head first, but this was different because this came right off the bass. I was fooling around on the bass.  He came up with this nice little sound, you know?  And I said “Oh boy, I’ve gotta make us a song right around this sound, right around this.”  You could hear it.  The song’s all about that bass line.

Smitty:  Yeah, very cool approach.

MM:  But it’s really cool and that’s the one I got Tom Scott to come and do his thing on it.  I hadn’t heard from him in a while and he’s starting to make a comeback.  He just did a tribute to Cannonball Adderley, an album that just got released about maybe—or maybe it’s about to be released in a week.  It’s a very nice album, so it’s really good to see him back on the scene.

Smitty:  Yes it is.

MM:  And I’m glad that I have him on the CD.

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