Primarily a bassist, multi-instrumentalist, and producer, Marcus Miller has worked on hundreds of sessions -- crossing jazz, R&B, and rock -- and has released several solo recordings since his late '70s beginnings with Bobbi Humphrey and Lonnie Liston Smith. Despite the many hats he has worn -- improviser, interpreter, arranger, songwriter, film-music composer, bassist, clarinetist, saxophonist -- none of them have been put on for the sake of the whim. Never one to merely get his feet wet, Miller has been a utility player in the most extreme and prolific sense.
Miller was a fixture as a performer in New York's jazz clubs before he was old enough to drive. Born in Brooklyn on June 14, 1959, and raised in nearby Jamaica, he knew how to play several instruments with ease by the time he entered his teenage years. His father, who directed a choir and played organ, had a profound impact upon his musical upbringing. Once he broke in with Humphrey and Smith, he gained steady work with the likes of Dave Grusin, Earl Klugh, Grover Washington, Jr., Chaka Khan, and Bob James. During 1981 and 1982, the in-demand musician went on the road with longtime personal hero Miles Davis and would end up working with him on several albums -- including Tutu and Music from Siesta -- after that.
Throughout the '80s, '90s, and 2000s, Miller scattered several of his own albums throughout the constant pull of production and session work. His solo recordings were almost as diverse as his outside work; hybrids of smooth R&B, funk, and jazz peppered the majority of the albums, while 1993's The Sun Don't Lie and the following year's Tales (both issued through PRA) also incorporated sampling technology. 2001's M2 won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Jazz Album. 2003's The Ozell Tapes: The Official Bootleg, released on Telarc, displayed his range as well as anything else bearing his handiwork; the live set incorporated originals, improvisation, and covers that ranged from material originally recorded by Talking Heads, the Stylistics, and John Coltrane. Silver Rain followed in 2005.