Composer, leader and sideman, bassist
Marcus McLaurine has become one of the most sought-after artists
in jazz, sharing bandstands with Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Burrell,
James Moody, Lou Donaldson, Dame Cleo Laine, Joe Williams, Jon Hendricks,
Abbey Lincoln, and the Count Basie Orchestra under the direction
of Thad Jones.
For the past twenty-five years,
Marcus has toured with legendary trumpeter Clark Terry. Marcus began
traveling the world as a child and never stopped. Born in Omaha,
Nebraska, to a military family, his youth saw him in Germany, California,
Texas, New Mexico and Utah. After music studies at the University
of Nebraska, twenty-two year old Marcus moved to Los Angeles and
began playing electric bass in a band with guitar legend Billy Rogers,
also an Omaha native. Billy convinced Marcus to hear Gene Harris
and The Three Sounds play at The Tiki Lounge. Roland Haynes was
playing upright bass, and Marcus was completely blown away by his
use of arco. The next couple of weeks found Marcus looking for a
bass. He finally bought a $150 Kay Bass in a pawn shop, and began
immersing himself in Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Miles Davis
and Cannonball Adderley. Over the next few years in Los Angeles,
he honed his skills and landed his first upright bass gig with the
Horace Tabscott Pan African Peoples Orchestra.
In 1976 Marcus entered the Air
Force, became an Airman and was shipped to New Jersey. He joined
the 590th Air Force Band, stationed out of McGuire A.F.B., and once
again traveled the world, from the eastern seaboard to Portugal.
His stint in the band even saw Marcus behind the bass drum, marching
down 5th Avenue for the Veterans Day Parade. By the time he
left the Air Force, he had earned the rank of Sergeant. Once again,
a good friend helped fate along. His friendship with Clifford Adams,
a world- renowned trombonist and member of Kool and The Gang for
over twenty years, lead to Marcus first job in New York City.
Adams told him, New York needs bass players, and Marcus
has been there ever since. Then, while playing Carnegie Hall and
various music festivals for trombonist Melba Liston, an opportunity
came Marcus way that would change his life.
In 1981 Clark Terry called Melba
looking for a bass player. Melbas band was free, and she suggested
Marcus. One evening at home, the phone rang. Marcus picked it up
and the voice on the other end said, This is Clark Terry.
Marcus immediately thought someone was playing a joke on him. Terry
said he needed Marcus to play two gigs a week at the Blue
Note and a week in Canada. Still thinking it was some kind of hoax,
Marcus agreed to meet at the Blue Note, and sure enough, it was
indeed Clark Terry. With no rehearsal, Marcus played his first set
with Terry. He was nervous, regarding Terry as an icon. From that
day, Terry has been a musical father to Marcus. Hes been with
the band ever since. Among the highlights of Marcus quarter-century
with Terry: meeting Nelson Mandela while performing for the 50th
African National Congress in South Africa, and the night Oscar Peterson
sat in with the quintet at The Village Vanguard. Marcus has been
influenced by the great players and has found his own sound. You
cant ever really sound like anybody, even when youre
trying to emulate idols. says Marcus. For years I tried
to sound like Ron Carter, but at some point you have to let that
go and let your own thing develop. Marcus plays what he feels
he listens to the story and the emotion of the song and finds
the phrasing. I stay open and let the sound pass through.
says Marcus. I let the song tell me what to play. Now,
in addition to his work as a leader and first-call sideman, Marcus
is focusing on his burgeoning career as a composer, writing both
jazz and contemporary pieces.
Marcus lives in New York with his wife and two children.