Marcus Miller, the bassist and sonic architect for Miles Davis' late-'80s "Tutu," "Music From Siesta" and "Amandla" discs, has fierce funk chops, production instincts and impressive woodwind abilities still intact, given the evidence of his latest solo disc, "M2." Too much time, sadly, is given to the bland grooves and glossed-up soul of smooth jazz.
There are several gems, though, including a popping, pumped-up stroll through John Coltrane's "Lonnie's Lament," highlighted by Branford Marsalis' soprano sax solo, and a sensitive reading of Charles Mingus' "Goodbye Porkpie Hat," with Miller out front on his remarkably fluid fretless bass and Herbie Hancock contributing delicate piano work. Club kids and Talking Heads alike might go for the brassy horn falls and break beats of David Byrne's "Burning Down the House." And who could deny the beauty of Chaka Khan's vocals on "Your Amazing Grace," an atmospheric urban R&B piece that incorporates bits of the gospel hymn?
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