This package contains the original, studio-concocted Miles Davis set that Miller mostly composed. There's also a previously unreleased gig from that year's Nice Jazz festival, delivered by a powerful octet including the late Bob Berg on tenor sax. As liner-note writer Ashley Kahn points out, I made an about-turn over this music in the 80s, from first doubting it as bland funk to reconsidering it as late-flowering Miles, creativity galvanised by Miller's input. But more importantly, Kahn's fine essay offers insights into Miller's assessment that producing finished studio tracks for Miles to blow on didn't work: you had to leave them as rougher sonic sketches and let his improvising bring them to life.
This two-CD (plus DVD) set is a better bet than last year's A Night in Monte Carlo: it celebrates the same creative funkiness of the mid-80s Miles Davis bands that bass guitar virtuoso and composer/arranger Miller had a big hand in, but here in more focused form, without symphony orchestras or singers.
After 30-plus years with Columbia Records, Miles Davis departed to sign with Warner Brothers Records. TUTU finds Miles entering the world of MIDI, chaperoned by former sideman, Marcus Miller and pop jazz hitmaker Tommy LiPuma, and beat box music would never be the same again.
TUTU is the birth of a new kind of cool, based on the emblematic street beats of the mid-1980s, brimming over with orchestrally-styled keyboard programming. The album is a showcase for Miles' evocative muted horn, functioning like a featured vocalist. Not since his work with Gil Evans had Miles deferred so much to a collaborator, and TUTU is a platform for the arranging talents of Miller, who in addition to his distinctive, popping bass lines, plays nearly every instrument on the session–from keyboards to bass clarinet.