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John Fordham    

guardian.co.uk, Thursday 31 May 2012 17.12 EDT    

This is bass-guitar star Marcus Miller's UK-tour repertoire of last month, plus a few bonuses, including the finely spun vocals of young New Yorker Gretchen Parlato and the rasping ones of Dr John on two tracks. For jazz-funk fans, it's paradise – Miller's arrangements have the clamouring horn parts, snappy basslines, raw guitar fills and whipcrack backbeats of this style meshing like a racing engine, and, of course, there are plenty of jawdropping bass solos. Creative obliqueness (of the kind Miller brought to Miles Davis's Tutu and Amandla albums in the 1980s) isn't always apparent. The assertive foregrounding of the bass guitar doesn't exactly enhance the potentially mysterious Brazilian feature Setembro, with its vocals by Parlato and Ruben Blades, and horn-punching groovers such as Cee Tee Eye veer to the formulaic. But the exhilaratingly funky Detroit, the lyrical (and Tutu/Amandla-related) Redemption, or the Headhunters-like Slippin' into Darkness confirm Miller's mastery of his particular world. Solos from Lincoln Centre trumpeter Sean Jones and excellent regular saxophonist Alex Han spark fireworks, sly quotes from Dizzy Gillespie and Bob Marley classics add spice, and there's a poetic solo-bass finale on I'll Be There.


With each new installment M ², an event! We are still waiting much of the gifted, workaholic, a variety of experiences. After about 35 years, as a Sideman, Producer, Composer solo or legendary artists ... or not ... pretty Note: MILES DAVIS, Al Jarreau, Herbie Hancock, Luther Vandross, George Benson, Joe Sample, EU (GOGO ), Chyco Simeon, Claude Challe, Whitney Houston (briefly), George Duke, Me'shell Ndegeocello, David Sanborn, Stanley Clarke, Victor Wooten, The Jamaica Boys, Roberta Flack and ......... the list goes on & on & on ...


This album marks a departure for the artist, what talented hyper SQ FT: "I feel that a page turns, our latest hero disappear and we enter a new era, both political and cultural. But music is not as revolutionary as the media. It's time for a renaissance."


And to mark the break, complete change of cast with a new band and special guests. New group, really? For a solo studio album Yes! But artists like Alex Han, Sean Jones, Federico Gonzales Pena, Luis Cato there were already a lot of lives together, and especially TUTU revisited! As for Bobby Sparks, this is an old faithful of the faithful, a former still very young.


The Band:

Marcus Miller (SQM): Bass & Bass Clarinet

Louis Cato: Drums

Kris Bowers: Keyboards

Alex Han: Sax

Maurice Brown: Trumpet

Sean Jones: Trumpet

Adam Agati, Adam Rogers: Guitar

Federico Gonzales Peña: Piano, Fender Rhodes

Bobby Sparks: Keyboards

Ramon Yslas: Percussion


Marcus Miller - Renaissance

Music Produced by: Bobby Sparks

Bobby Sparks II, Grammy Award Winning Musician and Producer, has toured the world over with diverse musical giants such as Kirk Franklin, Les McCann, Roy Hargrove, Natalie Cole and Nancy Wilson. He has taken part in numerous music award shows and even played at the White House. As he continues to accomplish his goals through his music, he is now producing artists at his new recording studio in Mesquite, TX. Sparks' diverse talent includes a wide mix of blues, jazz, and gospel music. His other projects include the release of the featured film, The Gospel, where he was the soundtrack co-producer. Bobby, the producer of Kirk Franklin's Why We Sing album, is also featured on the CDs of Yolanda Adams and Roy Hargroves. Sparks says to other aspiring artists, "Never give up on the dream, and have something to back it up with."