Title: Laid Black
Artist: Marcus Miller
Label: Blue Note
Formats: CD, MP3
Release date: June 1, 2018
World-renowned bass player and multi-instrumentalist Marcus Miller dropped his latest album, Laid Black, over the summer. Released three years after his Afrodeezia project, this album weaves together funk, hip-hop, R&B, gospel, and jazz into an amalgam of sounds. Although Miller is the focal figure throughout, we cannot neglect the contributions of his dynamic supporting cast of Kirk Whalum, Take 6, Jonathan Butler, Trombone Shorty, Russell Gunn, Marquis Hill, and Miller’s band, all prominent figures in their own rights.
Laid Black opens with “Trip Trap,” a live number featuring Miller’s funky bassline, a trap influenced hip-hop groove, and lush harmonies intermixed between the horns and synthesizer. Miller follows this with a heartfelt slow blues rendition of “Que Sera Sera,” reminiscent of Sly and the Family Stone’s version, sung by Belgian vocalist Selah Sue. Listeners are later treated to “Sublimity ‘Bunny’s Dream’,” a soothing composition that evokes sonorous qualities that resonate with West African musical traditions. Closing the album, Miller reprises “Preacher’s Kid” from his previous album, echoing the sounds of the Black church through the vocally inspired moans and groans produced by saxophonists Whalum and Alex Han, and the vocal harmonies by a cappella gospel sextet, Take 6.
Covering a wide range of genres, Laid Black highlights the interconnected nature of Black music through its local and global sensibilities. By looking at jazz as an extension of the Black music aesthetic, Miller produces sonic qualities that not only blur musical boundaries, but also accentuate the transnational exchange of sounds, ideas, and musical practices within the global Black community.
Reviewed by Jamaal Baptiste