MILES DAVIS — Tutu

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MILES DAVIS - Tutu cover
2.73 | 25 ratings | 6 reviews
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Album · 1986

Tracklist

A1 Tutu 5:15
A2 Tomaas 5:32
A3 Portia 6:18
A4 Splatch 4:45
B1 Backyard Ritual 4:49
B2 Perfect Way 4:32
B3 Don't Lose Your Mind 5:49
B4 Full Nelson 5:05

Total Time: 42:21

Line-up/Musicians

- Miles Davis / trumpet
- George Duke / trumpet, various instruments
- Jason Miles / piano, synthesizer, programming
- Michał Urbaniak / electric violin
- Adam Holzman / synthesizer, programming
- Bernard Wright / synthesizer
- Marcus Miller / bass, various instruments, programming
- Omar Hakim / drums, percussion
- Steve Reid / percussion
- Paulinho Da Costa / percusión

About this release

Warner Bros. Records ‎– 1-25490 (US)

Engineered at Capitol Records and Clinton Recording except "Backyard Ritual" at Le Gonks

Thanks to silent way, snobb, dreadpirateroberts for the updates

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MILES DAVIS TUTU reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

Chicapah
We humans, to a normal extent and often too much, place importance on numbers when it comes to years passing by. In particular, the beginning of every 12-month period with a zero tacked on the end of it has significance for our lives one way or another as does entering one’s twenties or thirties upon reaching a particular birthday. Sometimes these occasions are met with eager anticipation and sometimes they’re greeted with dread and/or apprehension, depending on one’s circumstances. (Having been born near the start of a new decade myself, the two events always coincided for better or for worse.) In the case of the esteemed Miles Davis, it was the latter happening he was dealing with when he made “Tutu.” The brilliant trumpeter and jazz pioneer had just turned 60 years of age in ’86 and I have no doubt that he’d naturally taken an inventory of his career at that point. Much like Alexander the Great, he probably realized there were no more virgin territories for him to conquer but, instead of crying about it, he just set out to develop more territory to plant his flag on. He viewed his impending seventh decade as a golden opportunity to expand his own horizons, taking the innovative studio tools that were constantly transforming and rejuvenating R&B and funk in the 80s and melding them into his unique vision of the realm of modern jazz. In other words, Miles didn’t let growing old stop him from growing.

The album had initially been planned as an intriguing cooperative project between Davis and pop icon Prince but we’ll never know how that might’ve turned out because they couldn’t get their schedules to mesh. Instead, Miles paired up with the multi-instrumentalist/composer Marcus Miller (Marcus penned and arranged the majority of the songs) to create a jazz album that would be an homage to Desmond Tutu of South Africa. Significantly, the record was the first in Miles’ extensive catalog of work to utilize programmed drums and sampling devices. In the hands of someone else such a move could’ve resulted in a woeful disaster but with Davis having the final say on each track it wisely avoids the perilous pitfalls that could’ve doomed the endeavor.

By opening with the title tune Miles makes a bold statement about his frame of mind at 60. He hadn’t lost a step. “Tutu” features dynamic punches that herald a stately theme befitting the man who inspired millions worldwide. The number sustains a respectable Weather Report-ish atmosphere throughout in that there are a myriad of ear-attracting facets and incidental sounds going on to keep things from getting stale. Fierce synth accents punctuate the presentation repeatedly. Davis co-wrote the next song with Miller, “Tomaas.” A subtle but motivating funk action streaming underneath propels this tune impressively. It’s obvious that Miles’ trumpet has misplaced none of its tendency to mesmerize and his emphasis on spotlighting melody (not just on this track but characterizing the disc in general) makes it very accessible to a broad spectrum of individual jazz tastes. “Portia” follows and here Davis courageously adopts the most up-to-date trends in 20th century jazz at that time yet pushes them one step farther by lending his inimitable horn to the deep ambience the tune is meant to convey. Marcus’ spectacular work on both bass guitar and soprano sax will give you an idea of how talented this artist is and why Miles wanted to join forces with him. “Splatch” has a harder funk foundation that provides it with a playful, almost frivolous vibe. It’s pretty much just a joyous, spirited jam that lightens the mood.

George Duke and producer Tommy LiPuma distinguish George’s “Backyard Ritual,” allowing the album to present a refreshing change-of-pace moment midway through. The song’s mysterious onset leads to a strong rock beat with funky overtones to give it pizzazz. Once again Davis’ well-seasoned recognition of the role essential melody lines play in making jazz compatible to the average Joe’s sensibilities allows this tune to have universal appeal. The group Scritti Politti composed the next number, “Perfect Way.” It’s another example of Miles and Miller taking then-current R&B attitudes and manipulating them to erect a crisp, pristine track that could’ve been too sanitized if not for them detouring into shadowy alleyways, providing several aural surprises for the attentive listener. “Don’t You Lose Your Mind” offers a slight Jamaican groove that distinguishes it from what has come before. There’s an infectious, somewhat wild aspect lurking in this song that keeps you wondering what will happen next. The album closes with another tribute, “Full Nelson,” dedicated to the honorable Mr. Mandela. A bouncy funk drive establishes this tune as a true toe-tapper. I detect a delectable Sly Stone influence rumbling through the track that puts a smile on my mug every time I hear it.

I haven’t mentioned it much in this review but I assure you that Davis’ magnificent trumpet playing is as spectacular from the Alpha to the Omega on this record as it ever has been. The man was magic and his gift of holding you spellbound by his artistry hadn’t dimmed one iota at this juncture in his existence on Terra Firma. Some purists may have reservations about his using synths and machine-generated drums on “Tutu” but I have none. There are so many recordings available for those who prefer his more traditional jazz fare that those so inclined will never run out of material to drool over. I consider it a treat to hear how Miles creatively interpreted and incorporated technological advances in the musical arts toward the end of his life. He was showing us all that in music it’s no sin to be open to change as long as one maintains one’s core integrity. “Tutu” is a very cool record brimming over with integrity.
dreadpirateroberts
A fascinating album with a superb cover, but not all that satisfying.

At least, to the typical jazz fan it won't be. It's nice to hear Miles' muted trumpet, but the backing he's playing over simply takes so few risks that it's almost on autopilot. It's too smooth and sounds decidedly glib in that 80s way, with airy synth and programming that has little sense of adventure. The tempo stays pretty even, pretty safe, and while his soloing is at times inventive (it's still Miles) there's certainly no spirit of collaboration or egging each other on.

And so the album has the sound of an 80s OST, perhaps to an action film or a thriller maybe, only it's delivered with less dynamic and less instruments (such as 'Backyard Ritual' which actually stands out because of this.) The song 'Tutu' itself is a perfect example of what to expect from the album and it works quite well, but elsewhere it's more of the same slap bass, ethereal synth and spacious beats that never evoke space nor raise the pulse. 'Portia' is not bad either, but the set really is a difficult listen if you're not already a fan of the production period.

A Miles Davis collector should eventually check this out, because in terms of soloing, he really does get to do as he pleases over the backing tracks. Otherwise, maybe give this album a miss.
js
Goodbye jazz fusion and hello slick sophisticated jazzy pop. The release of 'Tutu' in 1986 marked another turning point in the career of Miles Davis. Faster than you can say Cicely Tyson, Miles dropped his jazz fusion career and turned instead to the new hip hop influenced RnB style of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who had been turning out modernistic hits for The Time and Janet Jackson. Yeah, this is the Miles album with a drum machine. He lost the jazz purists by going fusion, and now with 'Tutu' he has lost the fusion purists. Since Jam and Lewis aren't on board for this album, Miles turned to his outstanding bassist, Marcus Miller, to supply the Jam/Lewis styled beat programming and production. Miller also writes most of the songs and plays bass and soprano sax as well, basically this is a Marcus Miller album that Miles plays trumpet on. I used to listen to this album almost everyday back in the mid-80s, it made for great background music for slightly aging wannabe hipsters at dinner time. It also provided hip background music for Gap clothing customers, Whole Earth stores and urban restaurants all across the states. Like most music from the 80s, this album hasn't aged well, a lot of the songs are not remarkable enough to rise above their plastic 80s sound.

The songs on here that fare the best under the harsh glare of the seen-it-all 21st century include; the Spanish flavored 'Portia', which recalls Sketches of Spain, and the upbeat 'Splatch' which sounds like Miles sitting in with Prince's band. The reggae tune 'Don't Lose Your Way' is nice and features a surprise appearance by 70s icon Michael Urbaniak on violin.

There is one tune on here that really stands out though and still sounds great after all these years, Miles' cover of the pop hit 'Perfect Way'. This song is 100% pure squeaky clean glib materialistic naïve 80s ear candy and I bet Ronald Reagan loved it, in fact I'm surprised he didn't craft his campaign for prez around it. "I found a perfect way . 'that's right folks I'm cutting taxes for large corporations' . I found a". and so on. Anyway, despite that awful image it's still a great song, it's happy music for the 'happy' 80s.

Miles playing on this album is strange and offbeat. The mute never leaves the end of his trumpet as he weaves non-typical and often purposefully slightly-out-of-tune quirky lines around Miller's perfectly shiny electronic production. This really isn't a bad album, Miller's synthesized orchestrations are excellent and often pay tribute to Gil Evans, but this album is so 80s sounding that I'm only recommending it to fans of Miles' pop music, and people who like that 80s sound, there has to be a few of you out there somewhere
Matt
I came across this album by Miles in my early days of listening to his music and thought I would give this album a go. What happened, by far this would be my least liked album that he has released and where is the Jazz. Marcus Miller was the man behind all this slick RnB background music to the album which Miles plays over. Originality score is zero for me and although this album does not sound bad it has no impact at all. The sound of the tone of Miles's horn is there all muted not one open horn track does he play but even though I still enjoy hearing him play it does sound a bit a times as if he was just going through the motions.This album does not work at all and maybe could be used for music whilst on hold waiting to be answered on the phone.........

Released in 1986 and sounding every bit like it, this really is for collectors only. The music is just to slick and there is not one stand out track and the album seems to go from bland to blander. The use of a drum machine throughout does not endear me to this at all. Horses for courses and a drum machine with Miles, what was he thinking or maybe was it Marcus Miller who is a bass player and RaB producer. George Duke also makes an appearance.

I always believe that after the fusion was done with in Miles's career these later albums are nothing special and the best out of the bunch for me was "Star People" and this would still be one of his poorer ones.

Collectors and Hard Core fans like me only

Members reviews

frankbernardi22
"Tutu" could have been Miles' last prison. A luxury prison, of course. Interior designer Marcus Miller, man - machine with a special taste for living instruments (bass clarinet and soprano among the others) thinks of a virtually immense house for the Master, the Magus and so on. That is the new playground, the brand new luxury kindergarten for the trumpeter with his load of sadness, solitude, cosmic melancholic moods (classic Miles' stuff, there is nothing new, under this point of view, in the record's grooves). But planned and placed in the middle of 80's, Miles' "Tutu" does nothing to hide the times. Or, better: does everything to lacerate the mask of optimism and forced smiles (Miles don't smile anymore). On the other side, Miller, so young, so gifted, is just a little worried because he's running the risk to suffocate the chief: no fear, says Miles, once I had Gil Evans on my side, and those were the times of deep communion. Today, in plastic times (and plastic has a resonance of its own - underlines Miles), Marcus Miller is the best for a jazz hero. The only rested alive. Mixed by different hands, nonetheless "Tutu" keeps trumpet level low enough to give Miles the ease of exploring the new interiors without agitation. All rooms comfortable but he's still looking for the windows or the fire ladder. Does he knows the name of the house is prison?
J-Man
Tutu was originally planned as a collaboration album between Miles Davis and pop musician Prince, but since that didn't work out, this 1986 release eventually became a project between Davis and multi-instrumentalist Marcus Miller. Miller ended up writing most of the material for this album, as well as playing the bass guitar and a variety of other instruments. This collaboration may seem like something to get excited about, but unfortunately Tutu offers very little in the way of excitement. Even though Miles's muted trumpet solos are as impressive as ever and the musicianship is excellent, Tutu just isn't all that interesting of an album. Like You're Under Arrest, Tutu sports a rather generic eighties' jazz/pop sound that's marred by fairly uninteresting songwriting and a trivial production - I can't say I'm the biggest fan of either of those. Tutu is only recommended to fans of uninspired eighties' jazz/pop and Miles Davis die-hard collectors. Otherwise, this is one of his most easily skippable albums.

The music on Tutu is undoubtedly pretty similar to what Miles Davis did on his previous outing. This is fairly straightforward jazz/pop music with a strong emphasis on catchy melodic songwriting and trumpet solos. Although I'm not opposed to jazz/pop music on principle, it seems like Miles lost a lot of his inspiration when he began to explore this style - the arrangements are bland and uninteresting, and the songwriting (which is not entirely his fault) fails to captivate me. I'd even venture to say that Tutu is weaker than the heavily uninspired You're Under Arrest - aside from the excellent title track, the funky slap bass playing, and the great trumpet solos, there's very little here to make my blood boil. The production, while still sounding very professional, is simply too over- produced and synthetic for my liking. Tutu would've probably been a lot more enjoyable with a more organic production.

Even though Miles Davis wasn't exactly on a 'hot streak' when Tutu came out, this 1986 effort can easily be marked as one of the weakest albums throughout his long and illustrious career. There's simply not very much material here to get excited about, and I can really only recommend this one to die-hard Miles Davis fans. Since Tutu is just a tad weaker than You're Under Arrest, I'll have to play my 2 star card in this case. Even though not a total disaster in my opinion, this is very far from a great Miles Davis record.

Ratings only

  • lunarston
  • Fant0mas
  • KK58
  • Lock24
  • Lynx33
  • b4usleep
  • idlero
  • Vano
  • fusionfan94
  • mad
  • mittyjing
  • Moahaha
  • darkshade
  • Drummer
  • darkprinceofjazz
  • Hawkwise
  • richby
  • bartosso
  • harmonium.ro

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