Marcus Miller was born in Brooklyn NY in 1959. Influence by his
musical family which had moved to Jamaica, New York. His father was a
choir director and church organist. By the age of thirteen, he was
proficient on the bass, piano and clarinet. At this age he was also
composing music. By the time he was fifteen, he was working with several
bands in New York City, as a bassist.
He has appeared on over 400 recording albums, including Joe Sample,
Frank Sinatra, Elton John, The Brecker Brothers, and David Sanborn. His
sound is distinctive, with his 1977 Fender Jazz bass, with a Bartolini active
pre-amp installed by Rodger Sadowsky.
I can remember back in the late seventies hearing him playing bass
with Michael Brecker and Randy Brecker, "The Brecker Brothers", on the tune
"Port of Call". (by the way, I have to mention here that I did get a
chance to play with Randy Brecker and his wife Eliane Elias in Tacoma, back in
He has been one of my major influence over the years, (with the other top
four being: Tetsuo Sakurai, Chris Squire, Ray Brown and Jimmy Haslip, and not
necessarily in this order).
Marcus Miller uses and prefers strings made by DR, which are all hand made.
He is able to get a very nice growl, from his '77 Jazz bass. His 1977
Fender Jazz Bass, has a Leo Quan Bad-Ass bridge. His bass
lines are extremely well thought out and appropriate for the songs he performs.
Even when he is not slapping the bass, but just using his fingers, his bass
lines are solid and provide the core needed for the other instruments.
Sometimes he double tracks on the bass, which makes it hard to replicate for one
bass player. He has a very good palm muted sound, and he is a master on
the fretless bass as well.
What I especially like about his sound, is that his bass sound like a bass
when he solos. It does not sound like some hybrid instrument, like some
who do solo work. His finger sound and choice of notes show exceptional
maturity as a player, and compliments the music around him.
I personally recommend the following albums for any serious bass student:
Marcus Miller-The Sun Don't Lie
Joe Sample-Sample This
David Sanborn-Any Album with Marcus on Bass.
Below are some Youtube.com videos of Marcus with various musicians.
This first one has Marcus with Lee Ritenour, Vinnie Colaiuta, and George
This one is called "Panther" from the "Sun Don't Lie" album
This is called "Scoop" from the "Sun Don't Lie" album