composer and session musician, Marcus Miller
is a man of many talents; but above all else he is a bass guitarist in love
with his instrument, to which Fender has
dedicated an entire range of models. As from January, the all-new Sire guitars, owned by Fender, will also have a new line of
signature guitars in his name. If he had one, Miller's second surname would undoubtedly be 'Jazz', that eclectic sea
of musical influences in which he loves to swim in unclothed, with no stylistic
ties to pull him back or drag him down and no cultural frontiers to get in his
Miller has not only changed the bass brand that he plays, he has also jumped ship to another record label, Blue Note Records. His new album, Afrodeezia, is his seventeenth in a long and successful career that goes back to the beginning of the '80s, and celebrates through his music his recent appointment as a UNESCO Artist for Peace - a distinction that he appears to be taking very seriously.
The idea, explains Miller himself, came from a recent journey to Senegal, where the terrible tragedy suffered by the slaves before the horrors of being shipped to the United States was revealed to him. This journey, that many North Americans travel in search of their 'ancestors', was the catalyst for his new project: "Through spirituals, jazz and soul we were able to preserve our history, because all the rest had been erased".
Music is all that is left of his roots and his desire to cherish it has produced a record whose aim is "to take negative things and turn them into something positive". A record full of colour and rhythm in which the phrasings of his bass set it apart from other ethnic 'mixes'. Because as well as showing how "the power of music" can be a powerful motor for social change, Miller has also once again proven that he is a musical maestro, a genius with his own ideas – two aspects that are not always found together. As well as the bass, Miller also shows himself to be a virtuoso on the clarinet and piano on some of the album's tracks.
Obviously, the record has its roots in Africa. However, the fusion of South American, Caribbean and European influences together with ingredients from his USA have made the journey from black music to the modern day one that can be travelled and appreciated by a wide audience.
Recording Afrodeezia in Morocco, Paris, Rio and New Orleans also lent a hand in the album's multi-cultural feel. Miller, as well as a magnificent musician, is also a grand master in the studio and knows all the technical wizardry necessary to ensure success. Whether recoding alone or in a group, he is both the composer and producer of his work, except for the odd cover version such as Papa was a Rolling Stone. The song's inclusion is perhaps a nod towards the white race, many unaware that their music finds its roots in the songs that were sung in the holds of the slave ships making their way across the Atlantic.