Marcus Miller has figured out a better way to offer his fans great music. For years he has been ahead of his generational pack of bass players/songwriters but with his new offering titled Renaissance, Marcus Miller has truly entered a new era of musical innovation. Renaissance features Miller’s new band which consists of 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 Pena and Bobby Sparks.
The 13-song collection includes eight original compositions, a tip of Miller’s trademark porkpie hat to the CTI Records sound of the 70s, and five re-defined works originally released by War, Janelle Monae, The Jackson 5 and Weldon Irvine. Special guests vocalists Dr. John, Ruben Blades and Gretchen Parlato round out the program. Opening with “Detroit,” Miller’s funky bass is front and center and sets the tone for a funky good time. His virtuosity leaves his fans no alternative but to keep listening to the entertaining and innovative sounds coming from his bass guitar. His solo on “Cee-Tee-Eye” is awesome and is yet another display of what a master bass player can do when they are honestly inspired. Ivan Lins’ “Setembro” (which you may remember from Quincy Jones’ version recorded for Back On The Block) is updated by a new arrangement that is sure to captivate you.
This song features Miller on fretless bass trading lines with vocalist Gretchen Parlato and the addition of an Afro Cuban section that features Ruben Blades. Great song. While “excellent” is an understatement as a description of the entire album, Marcus Miller’s stirring composition called “Gorée (Go-ray)” is particularly moving because of the story behind the song. Gorée came to be after Marcus and his bandmates visited this African island that served as a holding cell for innocent people bound for slavery in other countries. Miller’s emotional bass clarinet sounds capture the feelings emanated from this place with remarkable clarity and genuine knowledge. Alex Han’s saxophone solo is absolutely brilliant and gives the listener a sense of the confusion and pain that may have existed there. Overall, Renaissance is another masterpiece from the musical mind of Marcus Miller.