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Marcus Miller has spoken openly over the years regarding his own sense of musical alchemy, one that marries the timbre and harmonic intelligence of jazz with the rhythms of funk and R&B. This alchemy has often been referred to as "fusion" or "smooth jazz," but both of these rather dismissive terms belie the true heart of Miller's art. He's a composer, first and foremost, often of gorgeously oblique themes (see his track record with Miles Davis on the albums "Tutu," "Siesta" and "Amandla" for proof), and his love of the sort of funk perfected by Herbie Hancock on albums like "Headhunters" and "Thrust" offered him an entry point for a sophisticated marriage of composition and groove.
Miller's just-released collection, "Renaissance," finds him working with a host of young jazz musicians - prominent among them the already revered virtuosos drummer Louis Cato, saxophonist Alex Han and trumpeter Sean Jones - in service of a thick gumbo of sound and vision. It's killer stuff and will surely provide Miller and his band much to work with in concert at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Tralf Music Hall (622 Main St.).
- Jeff Miers