Marcus Miller

Marcus Miller

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Artist Biography

Official Biography (courtesy TelArc Records)  

Born in Brooklyn in 1959 and raised in Jamaica, New York, Marcus Miller came from a musical family. He was influenced early on by his father, a church organist and choir director, as well as his musical extended family (which included the extraordinary Wynton Kelly, jazz pianist for Miles Davis during the late fifties and early sixties). He displayed an early affinity for all types of music. By the age of thirteen he was already proficient on the clarinet, piano, and bass guitar and had begun composing music. The bass guitar, however, was his love and by the age of fifteen, he was working regularly in New York City with various bands. Soon thereafter, he was playing bass and writing music for flutist Bobbi Humphrey and keyboardist Lonnie Liston Smith.

Miller spent the next few years as a top call New York studio musician, working with Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack, Grover Washington Jr., Bob James and David Sanborn, among others. He has appeared as a bassist on over 400 records including recordings by Joe Sample, McCoy Tyner, Bill Withers, Elton John, Bryan Ferry, Jay Z, and LL Cool J.

In 1981, he joined his boyhood idol Miles Davis and spent two years on the road with the fabled jazzman. "He didn't settle for anything mediocre," Miller recalls. "And this helped me develop my style. I learned from him that you have to be honest about who you are and what you do. If you follow that, you won't have problems."

Miller subsequently turned his attention to producing, his first major production being David Sanborn's Voyeur, which earned Sanborn a Grammy and turned out to be the beginning of a career-long partnership with the alto saxman. Miller later produced various other top selling albums for Sanborn, including Close Up, Upfront, and 2000 Grammy winner Inside.

For more than twenty years, Miller also enjoyed a musical relationship with R&B legend, Luther Vandross . "We met in '79 in Roberta Flack's band and instantly connected because we were both so serious about music," Miller recalls. Over the years, Miller has contributed countless hits to Vandross's repertoire both as a producer and writer. Those songs include "Till My Baby Comes Home," "It's Over Now," "Any Love," "I'm Only Human" and "The Power of Love," which won the 1991 Grammy for R&B Song of the Year.

In 1986, Miller collaborated again with Miles Davis, producing the landmark Tutu album, the first of Davis three albums he would produce. He's also produced Al Jarreau, the Crusaders and Chaka Khan, among others.

After spending many years as a producer and session musician, Miller focused on his solo career in late 1993 with the release of The Sun Don't Lie. 1995's Tales found Miller re-imagining the landscape of Black music and its evolution over the past three decades. He released a live album, Live and More in 1997 and M2 ("M-squared") in 2001.

In the past few years, Miller has turned his attention to film scoring, composing for House Party (Martin Lawrence), Boomerang (Eddie Murphy), Siesta (Ellen Barkin), Ladies' Man (Tim Meadows), and The Brothers (Morris Chestnut and D.L. Hughley). He wrote and produced the old school hit, "Da Butt" for Spike Lee's School Daze soundtrack. Miller further surprised people by composing and performing the score to E.B. White's The Trumpet of the Swan. "I loved getting the opportunity to use jazz to tell a story to kids. Children have much more sophisticated ears than people give them credit for. You really don't have to play down to them. Just keep the music real."

"I like to keep things balanced, combining R&B, jazz, funk and movie stuff to help reflect what's happening in our world. I just try to keep challenging myself to continue to grow and get better."

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