Interview: Jazz Bassist Marcus Miller, the "M" of S.M.V.
Marcus Miller performs as part of S.M.V. with Stanley Clarke and Victor Wooten this Saturday at Times Square's Nokia Theater. Tickets available here.
Five days before the release of Thunder, the debut album by a unique gathering of three accomplished bassists, Marcus Miller (the "M" of S.M.V.) answers his cell phone from the front porch of his Los Angeles home.
The Brooklyn-born and Queens-raised Miller is something of a studio rat. His producing, engineering, arranging and performing skills are in evidence on well over 400 albums by such artists as Miles Davis, David Sanborn, Luther Vandross, Grover Washington Jr, Elton John, Paul Simon, Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack, Billy Idol, Kenny Garrett, Stanley Jordan, Dr. John, Mariah Carey, Al Jarreau and R.E.M. Now a dozen albums into his solo career (he won a Best Contemporary Jazz Grammy for 2001's M2), Miller's current project places him onstage alongside Stanley Clarke and Victor Wooten. The group will appear at Times Square's Nokia Theater on Saturday night.
Ever the professional, Miller performs an unrequested mic check--"check one, two; check one, two"--when he returns the call, just to make sure the speaker phone is at the proper volume for the recorder. But then he moves again, further inside his house, and the call is dropped. Just like in the cell phone ads.
Take three of our conversation follows.
Surely a man as accomplished as yourself, a Grammy winner and all, has a cell phone that maintains reception throughout his own house.
My cell phone works in Istanbul, Turkey, in Korea, in South Africa, but it's really shaky in my house [laughs]. I'm good now.
Okay, good. Let me ask you a couple of short answer questions to get us started. Tell me something you've never ever done before in your life.
Never jumped out of a plane. Let's see. What else have I never done? I've never done any cocaine, heroin, any of those crazy drugs that people do.
Tell me something that you've done once and one time only.
Let's see. I drove my car my car 160 miles per hour on the highway in New York.
In New York? Upstate, I hope.
No, just north of the city.
That's probably a story we don't need to publish.
[laughs] I did it 15 years ago, so it's all good.
Tell me the name of a book that you've read at least twice.
By Ralph Ellison.