( Musician / Composer / Producer ) "MARCUS MILLER"
Yo, Whas' Poppin' ????
: " Whas' up ,
Foles ? "
((( "M2" )))
Aiiiiiight , here we go : " Harlem River drive.... Harlem River drive "
*he he he*
MM : I was a senior at Music & Art High School in New York .....
when "Omar Hakim" asked me to join his group, "Harlem River Drive". Omar was also at Music & Art. The group had one single out that was playing on the radio. The tune was called "I Need You."
Word....I remember "Harlem River Drive" when I was a kid !
M2 : Up until then, I was playing in neighborhood bands. This was my first exposure to a group that at least, had a shot at making it. The group included former members of the group "Willie Feister & the Mighty Magnificents" & former members of the group "Mother Night".
Willie Feister & the Mighty Magnificents ?!?!?
Mother Night ?!?!?!
Damn.....I bet they [ a few of them kats ] could play, what ?
MM :Yeah, they were really good. "Denzil Miller" was nuts on piano & guitar. Omar played the same way he plays now! "Eddie Martinez" played with us for a little while. "He was screamin' on guitar."
"Eddie Martinez" .... AIN'T NO JOKE !! Photo: Shanetheriot.com
I love what he played on "David Lee Roth's" 1st solo EP
M2 : Yeah.... but, what was cool was that there was a big Rock influence in the music as well as R&B.
MARCUS MILLER : Both
of these groups were pretty famous on the [ local ] New York scene in the
That's Cool...anybody make it out of those groups U mentioned ??
sorta like...... the way "Luther" made it out of "Change" & "David Bowie"
M2 : Let's see.... "Ronnie
Miller" went on to play guitar with Bobbi Humphrey and
Lonnie Liston Smith. He also wrote that big Denroy Morgan hit "I'll Do Anything For You" back in the 80s. "Omar" [Hakim] went on to do big things on drums. "Denzil" played with Clarke-Duke and Chaka Khan. He also did a lot of Broadway arranging & conducting.
M2 : We rehearsed alot !!! Denzil Miller was the musical director. He played keyboards & guitar. He would have us play grooves over & over. He would also talk a lot about music , grooves & stuff.
Aaaww, man ...How's he doin' ?
Denzil came down & hung out with me , when I was recording "7yrs. ago......"
M2 : D's doing very well. I talked to him a couple of days ago.
He's in Jamaica [Queens] schoolin' the young cats.
"Teachers work harder than YOU do , NO matter WHAT U do" ------George Clinton '92
M2 : Denzil would talk about the great R&B players of the past and how important they were. He would tape us and make us listen back to ourselves. This was the first time I was made to analyze r&b carefully. Up until then.... I just played !!
Ha ha ha....I feel U ! I'm lookin' at EVERYTHING intensely !!
To listen to Stevie , now ?? A WHOLE 'NUTHA BALL GAME !!!
M2 : Yeah, I've been talking to people who were there when he recorded
"Talking Book " it was amazing to watch him work, [ they say.]
Photo: Rolling Stone
M2 : I remember Denzil told Omar & me to play this groove & don't stop till he got back.. Then he jumped in his car & took off. We played this groove over and over. After about half an hour, we stopped & watched TV.
Ha ha ha...right ?
M2 : We picked up again about 5 minutes before "D" pulled up!
He never knew. But, we had that groove.... Tite!
I loved his arrangement of "Lady Madonna" on Lenny's [ Streamline] record.
Sounds like Denzil was like the "Fearless Leader" ??
M2 :Yeah, he was the "Fearless Leader".... for real !!
He always came up with some interesting stuff in his arrangements.
We went in the studio & recorded some tunes with a financial backer, but never got picked up. It was a great experience for me. I started writing tunes (at the encouragement of Denzil) and also doing horn arrangements.
"Omar & Denzil" got me to start thinking of myself as special & started me trying to find something unique on my instrument.
Wow....... So, U & Omar Hakim have been down , waaaaay back in the Day ?
Yeah, Omar [ Hakim ] heard me in high school & recruited me for his band : "Harlem River Drive". Through him.... I met all the "Queens" kats.
He really helped me get started in
this game. In Harlem River Drive, I met Ronnie Miller the
guitarist. Ronnie got me on the "Bobbi Humphrey" gig. I met Buddy
Williams on the Bobbi gig. Buddy got me the audition for "Saturday
Night Live". I met [ David ] "Sanborn" on
the saturday night live gig , on down the line...
M2 : After Harlem River Drive fizzled out, Ronnie Miller, got a gig with flutist Bobbi Humphrey. She was hot at the time & had a hit out called "Harlem River Drive" (no relationship to the group.) Ronnie got me an audition & I eventually joined her band, too. This was the first time I ever left New York to play. We did gigs in Philly, Massachusetts, Milwaukee...mostly college campuses.
" I was 16 years old. "
Damn....16 yrs. old ?!?!??
M2 : Yeah, it didn't seem young at the time. Now... it does.
My son is fifteen !?!?
Ha ha ha.
Aiiiight.....tell me about "Jamaica Queens"
MARCUS MILLER :While I was in Harlem River Drive, Omar began introducing me to other great musicians from Queens. I met guys like Tom Browne, Donald Blackman, Winky Flythe (tenor sax), Dwight Gassaway (vibes), Howie Grate (drums), Dave Jackson (bass), Lenny White, Weldon Irvine, ....
and "Bernard Wright" who was 12yrs. old , at the time I met him!
Das CRAZY !!
MM : I starting hanging out at the jam sessions they would have.
Man, it was an incredible feeling to play with all these talented cats. It was like joining a fraternity or a gang ....but, ALL Positive.
Right ? * KIDS : TAKE NOTE !! *
MM : I would hear Tom Browne blow at a club and the next day I was practicing like a crazy man, trying to keep up. We would go together to different clubs in Queens & Long Island to sit in. All of us, like fifteen cats, showing up on somebody else's gig..... and taking over!
It was cool.
Yea, man ...eventually, Dave Grusin & Larry Rosen signed Tom Browne and he brought some of the Jamaica, Queens cats in to play on the album. On Tom's second album, we did the song "Jamaica Funk"
& that kind of hipped everybody to "the Jamaica scene"
"Jamaica Queens...Jamaica Scene" -------Phife ( ATCQ )
But, das (((( NYC )))) for ya !!!
Folks don't have that kinda energy anymore ....
And, this "One Man Band" ( studio ) shit.... is NOT for everyone !!!
You've got :
Junie ( Morrison )
"Yourself " ( most times )
and, hell ....I've been guilty of it , here & there.
But, I don't know..... man !
MARCUS MILLER :
But, if you notice..... all the folks who can do that ?
Can also turn it out.... "LIVE" !!
Photo: Marco Kestano
And, sometimes U just wanna get the Idea out , in it's purest form.... ( before it's too late )
Which can mean NOT wanting to wait on somebody, to get what you're tryin' to convey !!
Hence : "Nevermind, I'll play it "
MM : Right ?
I saw that "Tonni Smith" [Chaka Khan-like vocalist on those hits] has her own site & she's still in the Game !
MM : Yeah, she's still in the game.
I asked her to sing on this new "Patches Stewart" album , I did.
( Yup, I'm finally getting it out! )
Tell me about Lenny White's
MARCUS MILLER : I took off a semester from college after my freshman year to go on tour with Lenny's fusion band. We were touring off of his "Astral Pirates" album. After the tour, Lenny flew us all out to L.A. & we recorded "Streamline" It was my first time spending any time in LA. "Denzil Miller" played.... ( by the way, we decided that since we were both "Millers" & we both had West Indian grandparents... that we HAD TO BE cousins ! )
All these years I REALLY thought U guys were cousins ?!?!?
That's Still kinda Cool , tho .... Kinda true, as well ( musically speakin' )
MM : We probably *really* are.
We asked about a few people back in the islands :
"Do you have an aunt Ethlyn?"
We got close enough to decide that if we
continued to research, we'd find the connection!
Ha ha ha !!
M2 : "Donald Blackman" played too.
MM : We all lived in a house together on Outpost drive. When we weren't at the house, we were at the studio. "Larry Dunn" [ keyboardist from *THE ORIGINAL* Earth,Wind & Fire ] produced the record. He was really chill. He would tell us EWF stories.
It was incredible because , ( for us ) EWF was like the Beatles!
Yea, I just spoke with him the other day !!
Larry did THE MOST INCDREDIBLE string arrangement on "Sept. 28th, 1991" for me!
*I'm still tryin' to finish up Larry's "Inner-view" as well*
M2 : Larry's a great brother. I really had a great time on that Streamline session with him producing. I'll never forget, he had this gyro ball in his hand all the time, spinning it. He said it was good for his circulation.
And, Saturday Night Live w/ Miles ??
MARCUS MILLER : After the Lenny White Streamline period, I went back to New York, got back into school & started getting into the studio scene. Because of my Music & Art "clarinet days" , I could read music well.....so , I started getting a lot of work. Buddy Williams is a drummer I met, during this time. We actually met when he filled in for the drummer on a Bobbi Humphrey gig. I started doing a lot of sessions with Buddy. Dave Grusin & LarryRosen heard me, when I came in with Tom Browne. They started using Buddy & me for a lot of their sessions. We did Angela Bofill, Dave Valentine, Dave Grusin, Sadao Watanabe, Lee Ritenour, all the Grusin/Rosen Production stuff ( GRP ).
I remember when we first started hangin' out U said :
" It's cool to have Big Ears....but, make sure U got EYES , too ! "
* being able to Read Music, as well *
I think it helps. Just
because you don't have to freak out for the first
fifteen minutes of a session.... not being sure if you can figure the music out.
" You can just read it! "
Anyway, Buddy got me an audition for the Saturday Night Live gig. This was for the house band. I got the gig and joined the band with Buddy & David Sanborn. That was a good band although.... you only got to hear us at the beginning & the end of the commercials !
I always felt like THAT Band was sorta the "Pre-Cursor" to NIGHT MUSIC w/ David
Yeah, "Night Music" was basically conceived as an SNL
with the feature on
music. We even had a comedian, Kevin Meany on originally. I stayed on the gig for a couple of years. I developed a beautiful musical relationship with Sanborn, started writing stuff for him & touring with him when we weren't doing the SNL thing. After a while... I split. I had gotten the gig with Miles & was touring with him. My first time back at SNL was when "Miles" played the show.
Damn ....NOW, THAT'S HOW TO MAKE A RETURN VISIT !!
M2 : It was cool showing back up there with Miles. I introduced some of the house band cats to him. Miles wasn't feeling well at all during this time. We had just flown in from Japan (where we recorded "We Want Miles" ). Miles was sick in Japan and the long flight back to New York made it worse. Man , this was the closest to death... I had ever seen a cat.
M2 : So... although it was cool to do SNL with Miles......
I can't watch that performance.....
cause, Miles looks so bad.
Photo : Rico D'Rozario
I feel U ...Alot of people didn't know that Miles would play while he was sick, alot of the Time !
He said he felt "NO PAIN" when he was onstage.
Miles was Incredibly Strong !! U KNOW that woodwinds & brass require ALOT of Lung & upper strength ....
There was a scary moment once in Australia , where Miles had to lay down, right in the middle of the set !!
I went back in his dressing room to see how was doin'... I said : " Miles U ok ? "
And, he looked at me & said : "I Don't know, Foley ...I just need some Water , maybe !"
The entire time I was on deck , I've never seen him look like that .... EVER !
He Really looked Scared.
MARCUS : Man, facing death..... has to be some scary stuff.
Whew... I know !!
M2: But, he eventually got better, married Cicely [Tyson] & she took him to a bunch of "Holistic" people, doctors & stuff.....got him to a much better place, (health wise)
Yea...Miles was tellin' me about how this doctor said he
[Miles] was so bad off , that he couldn't even find Miles' pulse ?!?!
M2 : Yeah, I remember him saying stuff like that. That he was pretty bad off when
Cicely first starting having him see these doctors. But by the time I saw him again in '85.....
He was looking strong!
Can we talk about : The " Tutu " backlash....?!?
MARCUS MILLER : When we did Tutu, I was excited. I knew it was different and couldn't wait for people to start arguing about it. My feeling was that people weren't arguing about Miles' music anymore & that wasn't cool. He was always changing & challenging people's perceptions about music over the years & I wanted to help him do that again.
Fuckin' "Armchair Quarterbacks"
"Stanley Crotch" - type of muthafuckas ....
Ain't wrote , played or produced a NOTE , but.... STILL got shit to say !?!?!
M2 : All you got to do is go back .....
read the reviews on :
'Trane ~ Miles ~ Bird ~ Hendrix
& you'll be cured of the "Review blues".
Actually, you'll start
gettin' nervous...if they "Like" your ass !!
M2 : I remember ron lorman [ Miles' live sound man at the time.]
called me when I was at Miles' house and told me that he didn't like the album.
I think he & Miles' band were planning on doing Miles' album themselves,
so when Miles brought me in on Tutu.......
there was a *probably* a little bit of Hatin' goin on.
M2 : He said the slow songs were "Too Slow"
and , the uptempo songs didn't "Cook" ?!?!
I told Miles what he said ....
and, Miles said :
"This is how people are, they always got something to say."
M2 : Well.... people DID have something to say. It was Fantastic !!
It went from :
"This is awful"
to getting voted the "Album of the eighties"
For ME.... it was Perfect.
I felt like this is what Miles' music should do!
Reminds me of "Message Board celebs"
They're either "Hating" on somethin' or Ridin' dick .....
* til' the MASS opinion changes *
Aiiight , it's time for :
" Session Work "
Omni-Important or Just get the credit & move on ?
MM: Getting the credit was cool....
but, for me....the experience was invaluable.
"Imagine , listening to yourself with headphones on for 10 hours..... everyday."
Shit...I can't hear now, because of "Headphones"
M2 :I became an expert on my sound, on my touch, on all the subtle things that go into playing an instrument, dynamics, everything. In New York, there was never any time to set up a bass amp, so I went direct into the mixing console all the time. I learned my sound intimately. I also played with, like 400 drummers....
so, I figured out how to groove with anybody. I can go into any hotel lounge in the world & sit in and make the drummer sound like he's groovin his ass off!
Ha ha ha....Reminds me of the nights in "The Hauge" ( the hotel bar downstairs )
I remember you were there jamming for like 4-5 hrs. AFTER you'd finished your own set !?!?!
We held it down , tho.
Ha ha ha....I'm Sure !
I'm gonna throw some names @ ya ....
( respond however U like )
Lenny White Photo: Hip Bop records
M2 : Lenny took me on my first big tour. He's an incredible natural musician.
He doesn't read music that well.....
but, played the hell out of that intricate "Chick Corea" Return to Forever music.
He's one of the Greatest Drum Soloists... ever.
Here, Here !!
I'm NOT a journalist so , they take awhile*
You have to just be the best YOU can be & by doing that.....
You may become great in the process.
Yea, that was at the [group] "Fishbone" house/studio ...
* called the "NUTTSACK" *
M2 :He was the freshest kat, I had heard on drums.... in years!
I got the chance to produce a "Kenny Garrett" album that he played on.
He's a beautiful drummer.
I really don't like using the word : GENIUS !!
but, if I didn't ? I wouldn't be able to FULLY describe CHRIS DAVE's Drumming !!
CHRIS DAVE got ALL of the so-called "Hot Drummers" ( Past & Present ) Re-thinking their shit !!
I'm sorry.....I gotta tell folks this, so EVERYBODY will know about the "Real" MARCUS MILLER !!
Well , it's like he'd said ..... I called Marcus & said ( Emphatically ) I wanted him to hear this kid ...
So, Me & Chris get stuck in traffic tryin' to get to the "Fishbone" house....
Now, yŠll gotta know : MARCUS IS ALWAYS BUSY !!!
So, not only did he take the time out for me ( after me screamin' at him about this kid )
But, MARCUS MILLER : GRAMMY WINNING PRODUCER / ARTIST / BASS LEGEND ......
Had been sittin' out on the Stoop , on the corner of Highland & Franklin.... waiting "PATIENTLY" with his Bass in Hand !!
( my cell phone was dead.... so, after about an HOUR , he didn't know if we were coming or not )
YET, HE WAS SITTIN' OUT THERE READY TO JAM !?!?
M2 : Nah, that was cool hanging out there on "Highland".
I knew you'd show up.... sooner or later !
If THAT ain't an indication of WHO YOU ARE as a human being ...I don't know what is , man !
Cause , a kat like YOU ? Who ain't BROKE & don't NEED to hear anybody *really*
STILL has that "17 yr. old Fire" about Music, that'll NEVER leave U , man !
Not to mention, puttin' me on wit MILES DAVIS ....
Picking me up at the Airport....* in his Porsche*
Helpin' my with my Bags.....
( my first time in the CITY ) I'm lookin' around like that character on Stevie's "Living for the city"
" SKY SCRAPERS ...and, ER'THANG "
I'll never forget that shit , Marcus !!
Very Cool , man .....Very Cool !
I just wanted ER'BODY to know, where U're REALLY coming from ....
M2 :Man.....was that exciting, that first time in NYC or what ??
Marcus , it changed my Life....
I will NOW & FOREVER , see NYC as the place where MILES lived !!
To this day , when I'm there... I always feel like he's over at the "Essex House" :
Eating Ice Cream & shit... ( he was a Diabetic, ya'll do the Math )
Watchin' the Fights....
Clownin' somebody ...
That's what NYC has ALWYAYS meant to me.
"You are my Joy.....You're my Hearts Desire "-------Donny B.
Damn, I'm really beginning to realize, how backed up I am, on these Fuckin' INNER-VIEWS "
I haven't finished Don's inner-view, either .... but, it's Coming !!!
*Too Many Thangs *
James BrownPhoto: Michael Romanos
And, if you try to quit ... "Mr. Brown" would kick yo' ass , as well
He said, "It's really all about your imagination...."
"You have to really trust
it. It's really all you have."
Man, I felt so sad for him....when he lost "Anna Maria"
[ Wayne's wife was killed on that TWA flight that was shot down ]
Marcus, we were 2 mins. from hittin' the stage in europe [ w/ Lenny White ] when we got the News.....
M2 :Yeah, we were in "Finland" getting ready to go on, too. " It was awful "
I talked to him the other day & he sounds beautiful.
That's Great, man ....
Aaaaaw, man His Lyrix.... are just as deep as his Music !?!?!
"Sunday school don't make you cool , forever..... And, neither does the Silver of yo' spoon"
-------SLY STONE '67
You have to listen to that record again. "Loose Booty" is fonky!
I remember, for the longest time, .....I couldn't figure out which tune was Funkier :
"COLD SWEAT"or "LOOSE BOOTY" or "PINOCCHIO THEORY" ?!?!?!
James Sly's Bootsy's
It don't even matter now......
M2 :Those 3 jams .....will get you straight on the funk, tho.
Unless , you're DEAD already ...?
(((( Mike ? )))
M2 :I heard him and his brothers when I was 10yrs. old & thought that that was the greatest thing I'd ever heard. I think every generation has their boy bands that they get excited about. We were just lucky enough to have ours be one of the most talented individuals in the history of pop music. And, the guys who were playing the music behind them just happened to be some of the most talented musicians in the history of pop music. So, those "Jackson 5" records started me off.... right.
"Johnny Jackson" ( drums ) & "Ronnie Rancifer" ( Organ & piano )
What's so deep about the J5 is : " There were only 7 people onstage !!! "
And, of those 7 people ( Kids ) they were the SINGERS ...DANCERS...& MUSICIANS
( Ask "Lionel Richie" & the Commodores 'bout dat Ass-whuppin' they used to take "ON DA REGULAR" from dem KIDS !?! )
That's funny U said : " Michael Jackson ! "
cause, I was rapping with [the Late] "Layne Staley" from the rock group "Alice in Chains" back in ' 93 ( Lollapalooza )
And, he told me that ELTON JOHN was the first kat that made him wanna play music !??!
* His older brother had taken him to a show, when he was kid.*
But, yea ....THOSE FIRST THREE J5 RECORDS ?!?!
Speakin' of Which :
James JamersonPhoto: Motown Archives
those kinds of bass lines didn't exist...before Jamerson played 'em.
They seem like they always existed, kinda like Stevie's songs.
But, they didn't. Those cats just invented them. Pretty awesome.
No "Jamerson" .....No Peace !!
( If U've ever picked up a BASS guitar )
Can you imagine what that feels like ?
M2 : I heard Jaco's music after I had been playing R&B music for a few years. (Stanley Clarke too. ) Their music made me want to learn jazz. It opened me up. I think we don't hear as much about Stanley because he's still here & has had to figure out how to continue on in life after changing the world. Kinda like Prince , Michael & Sly. Nobody really talks about that. What do you do after you've revolutionized the world?
I couldn't EVEN .....
M2 : A lot of the revolutionaries simply check out...Hendrix , Jaco , Bird.... But what about Sly, Stanley Clarke, Prince, Dizzy, Little Richard.
To me, these are really interesting stories. How they handled "the post revolution".
Some of them, managed it well......Others didn't.
U ain't NEVER Lied ...
reminds me of "Lenny Bruce" in terms of what he means to comedy.
NEVER seen him when he's just......like filling up space.
"Either he's giving it up or he's not playing!"
You don't really understand that until you're in the band with him.
M2: Bernard is a guy who gives you All of Himself , "Every time" he plays.
It's like playing ball with "Sam Cassell". The energy just spreads through the band!
'Nard....'Nard....'Nard.......Man , I love that brother !
I know he's gon' be alright !
You ready for da.....Either OR Game ?
M2 :Alright..... either or huh ??
*he he he*
Gotta have both.
I hate this Business .....MOST OF THE FUCKIN' TIME !!!
"Parties & Bullshit....And, Parties & Bullshit...." -------- the Last Poets
* Den Hagg ? anyone? *
L.A. or NYC
LOS ANGELES......for the fact that, if I drive one hour ?
I can ski.... swim....be in the desert..... be in the mountains, whatever.
The variety here is sick.
You can keep the "Hollywood part", tho.
I feel U.
Das why , I keeps my ass right here, in OHIO !!
And, these fools [ in ohio] are crazy too...
Leno or Letterman
M2 : Leno.
Letterman asked "Eddie Murphy" how it feels to be so rich.
Eddie said : "Do
you ask Sly Stallone these questions?"
Damn....maybe ED felt like : "Why U tryin' bring up old shit " ?
since he was rumored to have been hittin' up stallone's girl .....
Brigit [ "the Big Bitch was at the last robbery" ] Neilsson from Beverly Hills cop II ?
M2 :Right ?
8 track or Reel to Reel
M2 : Reel to Reel.
Ha ha, that was a "NO-Brainer"
Older , huh ?
Would that be a euphemism for : "SMARTER" ???
M2 : Yup, Smarter !!More interested in taking care of your "Own" stuff !
Money or Fame
M2 : Money. Fame is cool..... for about three weeks.
U Dig ??
Aiiiight , we got thru Dat ....
"A (Stable) Home Life"
.....one should be so Blessed ?
Photo: Art Studio35.com
I figured as much ....I've had the pleasure of being around You & the kids !
Thank you....For EVERYTHING , man
M2 :Thanks, for having me do this !
Some REAL questions .... Finally !?!?!
He he he....Right ?!?!I'll hit Up , later man....
MARCUS MILLER :Peace....
" INNER-VIEWS "
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