A Night in Monte-Carlo

[Concord Jazz]

With a playing style that glides effortlessly among jazz, R&B and funk, bassist Marcus Miller has long been in demand as a sideman. But he shines brightest when he’s the man up front, as on this live collaboration with the Monte- Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra. Joined by an inspired cast of musicians including trumpeter Roy Hargrove, singer and guitarist Raul Midón and turntablist DJ Logic, Miller underlines the extent of his gifts. The opening “Blast!” is an exercise in Middle Eastern–tinged funk that establishes the possibilities of the oversized crew. But it’s during a trio of tunes associated with Miles—“So What,” the Gershwins’ “I Loves You Porgy” and “Amandla” (which Miller wrote)—that the group’s virtuosic musicianship and Miller’s exceptional arranging skills come to the fore. An appropriately somber reading of the anti-lynching anthem “Strange Fruit” with Herbie Hancock guesting on piano may not send the show off on a cheerful note, but it certainly leaves the listener awed. –Jeff Tamarkin

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