1986's Tutu marked a rebirth for Miles Davis. It was his first album after nearly 30 years as a Columbia Records recording artist, and appeared on the Warner Bros. label. Producer Marcus Miller was Davis' chief foil, composing nearly every track and playing multiple instruments, while Jason Miles, George Duke, Paulinho da Costa and Michal Urbaniak all made appearances. Duke's "Backyard Ritual" was covered on the album as well as pop group Scritti Politti's "Perfect Way." Tutu was very much a product of its time, emphasizing mid-1980s R&B textures and utilizing synthesizers, sequencers and drum machines. Although controversial at the time of its release, Tutu has been recognized of late as somewhat of a Davis classic. The European Warner Jazz label is giving listeners the opportunity to rediscover its riches via a 2-CD deluxe edition which is already in stores in the U.K. and due on our shores today, May 31. It comes on the occasion of what would have been Davis' 85th birthday on May 26.
Though the album could be considered more pop-fusion than jazz, its modern, funk-influenced sound proved that the trumpeter was determined to continue evolving as a relevant artist. He was rewarded for his troubles when Tutu earned two Grammy Awards. The album was named for Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the first black Anglican Archbishop of South Africa, and also featured the track "Full Nelson," a tribute to Nelson Mandela with a nod to Davis' own "Half Nelson." The jazz titan's move to Warner Bros. also paid off commercially, as the album crossed over into the pop and rock markets.
What new material has been added to Tutu? And what does Prince Rogers Nelson have to do with the whole thing? Hit the jump to find out!
Tutu had originally been conceived as a project that would bring Davis together with Warner Bros.' reigning superstar Prince. Though Prince and Davis formed a mutual admiration society, the project never came to fruition for a variety of reasons, among them Prince's concern that his material wasn't of a piece with the other tracks being cut for the record. For the fascinating, full story on what might have been (and the collaborative gold that sits in the vaults) read Paul Tingen's excellent liner notes for an unreleased Rhino box set dedicated to Davis' Warner Bros. period. (A 6-CD version of the box, entitled The Last Word, morphed into a 4-CD version, but that, too, was scuttled by legal and licensing issues.)
The second disc of Tutu is drawn from Davis' 1986 set at The Nice Jazz Festival. This performance contains some non-Tutu material (including Davis' cover of Michael Jackson's "Human Nature," first introduced on his Columbia set You're Under Arrest) and Davis' octet features Robben Ford on guitar and Bob Berg on tenor saxophone. Ashley Kahn provides new liner notes putting the album and performance into historical perspective.
Tutu marks the first expanded edition of one of Davis' Warner Bros. albums, and follows Warner Jazz's 2010 double-CD overview of the period, Perfect Way: The Miles Davis Anthology - The Warner Bros. Years. It also follows Marcus Miller's own tribute to the album, Tutu Revisited, featuring his reinterpretation of the album's tracks. Tutu: Deluxe Edition is available now. The track listing with discographical annotation and ordering information follows!
Miles Davis, Tutu: Deluxe Edition (Warner Bros. 25490, 1986 - reissued Warner Jazz, 2011)
CD 1: Tutu
- Backyard Ritual
- Perfect Way
- Don't Lose Your Mind
- Full Nelson
CD 2: Live At The Nice Jazz Festival, 1986
- Opening Medley
- New Blues
- Human Nature
- Time After Time