Marcus Miller, winner of the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Jazz Album of 2001, was born in Brooklyn in 1959 and raised in Jamaica, New York. He came from a musical family and was influenced early on by his father, a church organist and choir director, as well as his musical extended family (which included the extraordinary Wynton Kelly, jazz pianist for Miles Davis during the late fifties and early sixties!). He displayed an early affinity for all types of music. By the age of thirteen he was already proficient on the clarinet, piano, and bass guitar and had begun composing music. The bass guitar, however, was his love and by the age of fifteen, he was working regularly in New York City with various bands. Soon thereafter, he was playing bass and writing music for flutist Bobbi Humphrey and keyboardist Lonnie Liston Smith
Miller spent the next few years as a top call New York studio musician, working with Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack, Grover Washington Jr., Bob James and David Sanborn, among others. He has appeared as a bassist on over 400 records including recordings by artists as diverse as Joe Sample, McCoy Tyner, Mariah Carey, Bill Withers, Elton John, Bryan Ferry, Frank Sinatra, and LL Cool J.
In 1981, he joined his boyhood idol Miles Davis and spent two years on the road with the fabled jazzman. He didn't settle for anything mediocre, Miller recalls. And this helped me develop my style. I learned from him that you have to be honest about who you are and what you do. If you follow that, you won't have problems.