Featured Smooth Jazz Artist Archives (2018)

Feb. 2018

Marcus Miller – Caution: Bass Virtuoso At Work

The world of Smooth Jazz is full of musicians whose careers seem to embrace spending time playing with, well, just about everybody! None more so than Marcus Miller! Miller is a phenomenon whose career began in New York City where he played with the great Bobbi Humphrey and keyboardist Lonnie Liston Smith. Both giants of a brand of jazz fusion that laid the groundwork for today’s smooth jazz.

Miller was born in Brooklyn, New York City in 1959. He was raised in a musical family that included his father, William Miller, who was a church organist and choir director, and William’s cousin — the jazz pianist Wynton Kelly. Kelly was a key member of Miles Davis’s group in the 1950s. Miller remembers sitting on Wynton’s knee, “adding wrong notes to whatever he was playing on the piano.” Years later, when the younger Miller himself joined the Miles Davis group, he says that nobody in his family was that impressed. “ ‘Oh yeah,’ they said, ‘like cousin Wynton,’” he recalls, laughing. Read full article


Jan. 2018

Peter White — The Perennial English Giant of Smooth Jazz

One of the real pleasures about writing about musicians is that their back stories are always so interesting. Growing up in the UK through the seventies and eighties were amazing times, musically at any rate. The club scene was dominated by U.S. Black music (Brass Construction, Fatback Band, Kool and the Gang, etc.) and tucked in amongst those funk heavyweights were gems like “Westchester Lady” from Bob James, Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit,” and other contemporary jazz tracks. Those crossover jazz funk floor fillers left a deep impression on me at the time and started my love of jazz. The club scene was where you had to go then to find that kind of music. Very different from today. It was out of that scene that many good British soul bands emerged (Hi-Tension, Light of the World, Incognito, and a crossover Latin soul funk band called Blue Rondo a la Turk). The guys from Blue Rondo were London club scene regulars, among them was a keyboard player named Danny White and a Polish singer named Basia. You are probably wondering: “What this trip down memory lane has to do with the artist of the month?” Well, all will become clear. Read full article