October 13, 2013. Contemporary jazz is going through a rough time. Starved of originality and disenfranchised by radio one is compelled to wonder what the future holds yet sometimes it only takes a spark to rekindle our passion in the music that we truly love. At the Smooth Jazz Cruise – West Coast Edition Earl Klugh was one such spark. Two more were David Sanborn and Marcus Miller. Sanborn and Miller shared the stage in the main auditorium and together demonstrated how they have shaped the genre and set the agenda since 1979. It was then that they were playing together as part of the Saturday Night Live band and the then nineteen year old Miller handed Sanborn a demo tape of his music. The result was Sanborn’s 1980 project ‘Voyeur’ and the rest, as they say, is history. Thirty three years on, in a show that was more about the overall effect than the sum of the parts, the audience were treated to some wonderful snippets from the sensational careers of these two sensational players.
Take for instance Sanborn’s ‘Maputo’ from his 1986 collaboration with Bob James ‘Double Vision’ or ‘The Dream’ which can be found on his 1987 recording ‘A Change Of Heart’. Both were received by the audience with an air of stunned wonderment. Miller’s current album is titled ‘Renaissance’ and his first solo project in five years. As he dipped into it for the vibrant ‘Detroit’ it was obvious he has lost none of his legendary funk drenched magic. Equally good was the split personality of ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ that shifted from the coolest groove you will ever hear to something altogether more raucous and when, the following evening, Miller made an impromptu appearance to play bass on Earl Klugh’s ‘Brazilian Stomp’ (a song that appeared on the 1987 CD ‘Collaboration’ by Klugh and George Benson) it proved to be another memorable moment in a week crammed full of them.