Listing posts tagged with Marcus Miller

Back to the blog start page

Lonnie Liston Smith: - Technical skill is not music

Musicians' Corner meets Lonnie Liston Smith

Lonnie Liston Smith
An article with Lonnie Liston Smith

Music is life. People don’t realize that music is the only universal language that we have. Music helps people feel better, and music can heal people.

From Day 1 my life was all music. It was the whole thing, and there was never any doubt about what I would do in life. My father was a famous gospel performer and there were always famous musicians coming to our house. For me that was natural, something I took for granted.

Lonnie Liston Smith "Summer Nights"

Working with the greats taught me that they were serious about what they did. I grew up listening to Art Blakey, Max Roach, Miles Davis. I then moved to New York hoping to work with as many of the greats as possible.
Art would never show up for the rehearsals. When we were done he would just sit down and play.
Playing with Roach was often about dealing with different times, like 5/4.
Miles was the icing on the cake. He was a genius on and off stage. If you played with Miles Davis you went to the Miles Davis University, and you were ready to form your own band after that.

These artists made me stronger, more secure in my own self. Especially Art did. And Miles was about something that is hard to find today: You had to create something new every time you played with him.

My first album with The Cosmic Echoes’ happened because Bob Thiele wanted to produce it and because I had a lot of great musicians around me. By the time of our second album, Expansions, I was writing lyrics. I had done a lot of studies and expanded my mind. We played a jazz/funk that a lot of people had never played or heard. We all came from a jazz background. But when people heard the music they thought “That’s it!”.

"Astral Traveling"

People should listen to a song I did called “Astral Traveling” (from the album with the same title). I’m really proud of that recording. I had never played a Fender Rhodes piano before, but there was one in the room. I sat down and played and this cut just came from the Gods. I call it the 21st century blues.

We discovered new talent along the way. I first heard Marcus Miller play when he was 15-16 years old for example. Talent – it’s a thing. You listen for their inner being, their soul. You’re not listening for their technical skill. That’s not music – people don’t realize that. If you think of singers their song in many cases really come from inside. It should be the same with an instrumentalist. Sometimes just a lot of craziness comes out of course.

"A Garden Of Peace"

People sampling my music is actually great. When I came up we used to go to each other’s houses and discover music we hadn’t heard. Now kids discover music through samples, and go back and find out about the artists. That they sampled “A Garden of Peace” surprised me. At the time I just wanted to create something beautiful with that song, with all the chaos that was going on in the world. Years later Jay-Z wanted to sample it, and it’s on his “Dead Presidents II”, and on Mary J. Blige’s “Take Me As I Am”.

Young artists of course need to learn their craft – they need to learn their instruments. And they need to listen to a lot of music, and to go back and listen. I think that the young artists now are more on the business side than we were. We got to the business side of music the hard way. The business of music drives me crazy ever since I realized that someone else owns the masters, and perhaps it’s someone who’s not even in music.

My plans for the year include playing with The Superstars Of Jazz Fusion, featuring Roy Ayers, Ronnie Laws and myself.

Lonnie Liston Smith live a New Morning

LONNIE LISTON SMITH is a musician and composer from Richmond, Virginia. After working with a number of luminaries in music he formed his band The Cosmic Echoes in 1973. They released many successful records on several labels. Lonnie Liston Smith also appears on many albums with Roland Kirk, Pharoah Sanders, Gato Barbieri and Miles Davis, among others.


0 comments | Post a comment | Comments RSS

Georg "Jojje" Wadenius: - If you left New York you had to start over

Musicians' Corner's interview with Georg Wadenius

Georg 'Jojje' Wadenius
An article with Georg Wadenius

   I am not working that much in 2017. I worked far too much last year and it started to take its tow on my health, so this year I’m playing some material for children and doing a tour in the fall with The Cleo Band, my band with Lars Danielsson, Per Lindvall and Jesper Nordenström.

Cleo live

Blood Sweat & Tears live

   I wound up in Blood Sweat & Tears – and in New York – because I ran into a friend, the guitarist Stefan Grossman, who is a childhood friend of three or four of the guys in the band. They had had a band meeting where they decided that they needed a guitarist who could play rock and jazz, and Stefan had said to them that he knew who they needed. So I got a call from them and went over to play with them between Christmas and new-years in 1971. And it went well, so I returned home to Sweden to get my things together, after which I made the move to the US.

   I had so much work in the US. For a studio musician the job is often to be able to fit into a lot. Being a session musician there I was part of so many things that made it out to the general public, and so many things that didn’t, because it didn’t work out on the business end for example.

A mere few examples of the many album productions that Jojje Wadenius has contributed to

    I worked a great deal with Luther Vandross, and he was a lot of fun to work with and an agreeable person. We had been working with Roberta Flack prior to that. It was me on guitar, Marcus Miller on bass, Buddy Williams on drums, and Luther doing backgrounds. So when he initially recorded a couple of tracks, he brought us for that. After that I kept working with him a lot but I really only toured with him in New York. Things were going well for me, and not in the least financially. If you left New York for six months to do a tour you had to almost start over as a session musician, because there were always new people coming in. I also had young children, and wouldn’t have enjoyed being away for months.

Classic Luther Vandross "Never Too Much"

   It’s hard to say what makes a great artist. Most artists who make it have talent at the core, but you can hardly say that all of them are nice people. I think that one thing the greats have in common is that they don’t release something before it is as good as it can be. They wouldn’t stand for something that is seventy percent of what they want. And a lot of them have AD/HD too.

   These days I find it’s difficult to keep up with what’s going on. I have heard such a lot of music and  often I quickly get tired of the music that is popular now. We do have some great acts in Norway though, where I am based these days.

As for the future I just hope to be able to continue, and to be continually inspired.

Made In Sweden with Jojje Wadenius

Georg Wadenius and Cleo

Find out more HERE

Saxophonist Marcus Miller: I’m extraordinarily curious, that is what drives me

Saxophonist Marcus Miller

An article with Marcus Miller

I liked math as a little kid but was discouraged by my math teacher in the 6th grade, which was when I really got into music. I was really good at school so my mentors urged me to academic college instead of a music conservatory. I decided on Harvard. Looking through the course catalogue I was drawn to math because words like “Riemannian Manifold” or “Noetherian Rings” sounded exciting to me, and I asked myself “when would I have the chance to learn it again?” I fell in love with math at Harvard.

I don’t think in mathematical terms when I think about music. There are artists who are into that sort of thing. For me my background in math has taught me how to solve problems. It has put me in a mindset for discovering new things. It makes me feel right when things are a match.
People are looking for the deeper connections, thinking of queries such as “Does listening to Mozart make you smarter? And if so for how long does it last?” The research is undecided, but Every culture has had music, so it has to be important at least anthropologically. You can look at music from a scientific standpoint because music is basically physics, it’s vibration. But if you think that vibration makes it spiritual or mystical then everything can be seen as spiritual or mystical. People like to see it in music and in math. They don’t consider it in technology like an iPhone, but it’s the same thing.

In the American school system you got to try different instruments in 4th grade. My father played the saxophone, had one, and taught me a little bit. I played as a kid and had my first professional gig at 13 thanks to excellent training by my music teacher Bruce Williams. I took a break from it during college. And after college I didn’t want to go to grad school immediately. Then things happened. One day during my senior year a friend of mine called me out of the blue. It was a Friday and he told me that I had a gig on the following Monday in New York. I told him that I couldn’t do it, but he said I had to, so I took the bus down to New York from Harvard, and after the gig I took the bus back again at 6am for morning math class. I did this all through my second semester senior year. When I graduated I went to work at a hedge fund but I realized quickly that I didn’t want to work in finance after I started. I was really a musician and creative. That was when I moved back to New York.

Saxophonist Marcus Miller

I want to understand what people are listening to and for. The sax has tradition in jazz and soul, but not so much in music that my friends were listening to. I wanted to learn about how to make modern popular music, electronic music, and hip hop too. When got to New York, I learnt to engineer and produce, and I learnt from one of the best, “Bassy” Bob Brockman. That enabled me to make my own music and experiment with software, different sounds and broaden my imagination. I did all the production, engineering, writing, and performance on my own album, Love in Absentia.
New York is great. I’m working, getting cool gigs and good tours. This summer I’m doing a European tour with a New Orleans-band, New Orleans Swamp Donkeys. I played in a lot of genres, I played with big bands, I love electronic music. I’m extraordinarily curious, and that is what drives me. After the tour I will be back in New York, and I plan on moving forward with my band. I will also do work with Av8ted, a creative collective that I collaborate with.


Marcus Miller "After All"

Marcus Miller [Marcus the Artyst] is a saxophonist and recording artist, based in New York.

Find out more HERE


0 comments | Post a comment | Comments RSS