Sunday, August 13, 2017

Marcus Miller Reigns At Long Beach Jazz Fest

Marcus Miller at 30th Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival

By Darlene Donloe

Marcus Miller is one of those hypnotic musicians who is known for leaving it all on the stage when he performs. Well, he was picking it up and putting in down during his hour-long set as the headliner at the 30th Long Beach Jazz Festival #LBJazzfest Friday night. 

I caught up with the affable jazz bassist, bandleader and record producer right after he walked off the stage.  He was in a good mood. He had just played before an appreciative audience, plus he got the chance to play with one of his favorite artists, Randy Crawford, who was his surprise guest.  Together the two powerhouse performers showered the crowd with Crawford’s hit, Street Life.

A busy musician who has been giggin’ for three decades, Miller revealed that he is working on a new CD and he scored the film, Marshall, Reginald Hudlin’s biographical drama.  The film, set to be released later this year, stars Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, Dan Stevens, James Cromwell, Sterling K. Brown and Keesha Sharp.

This isn’t Miller’s first time working on a film. He wrote the classic Da Butt for Spike Lee’s School Daze. He has also composed more then 20 films, including the Eddie Murphy/Halle Berry movie, Boomerang.

Although he didn’t have a lot of time to talk, I got a chance to ask Miller (MM), a two-time Grammy-winner, a couple of questions.

Marcus Miller

DD: There are tons of jazz festivals each year. What makes the Long Beach Jazz Festival so special?

MM: The organizers. I love them. The whole family. And then the people. The people make the festival. Not to mention this atmosphere is beautiful. Long Beach has its own vibe. But, for me, it’s about the people. People are there to listen. Some people are there to have a good time. At some of the other festivals they just party. It’s a little bit of both here in Long Beach – and so I really love it. I mean, I really love it.

Randy Crawford and Marcus Miller
Randy Crawford

DD: How did you get Randy Crawford to be your guest artist?

MM: About three days ago, Randy’s manager called me and said, “Marcus, Randy Crawford is finally getting over the passing of Joe Sample. You know she and Joe Sample had been doing gigs together for years. She wants to get back out there. She wants to perform. She read that you were performing at Long Beach. Would you mind if she sat in?”

DD: Obviously you said yes.

MM: Randy Crawford!? Yeah!  I said, can we do Street Life? That’s one of my favorite songs. And, she said “Of course.”  It’s just an honor to have her on the stage with me.”

DD: When are we going to get some new music from you?

MM: I’m currently working on a CD for me.  That’s all I can say right now.

DD:  What else are you working on?

MM:  I’m scoring Marshall. That’s Reginald Hudlin’s new film.  It’s going to be good. This is a biographical drama.  It stars Chadwick Boseman and Kate Hudson in it.

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