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  • Tutu
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`Tutu', released in 1986 was one of Miles' last works and defines his later, `electronic' period. Sometimes criticised for being more the work of the highly talented multi-instrumentalist Marcus Miller than of Miles himself in the same way that `Porgy and Bess' and `Sketches of Spain' might be seen as `Gil Evans Albums', nevertheless Miles' signature style and virtuoso trumpet playing define Tutu's principle character.

The history of this project is that Miles' new contract with Warner Brothers stipulated that all songwriting credits henceforth should belong to WB rather than to Miles himself. To get around this legal irritant Miller was hired to compose the main theme for each piece as a framework over which Miles could solo, and took all legal songwriting credit. Miller has been described as "A producer who could play as well as a player who could produce" and did a good job: the resulting electronic rhythms and synth-dominant sound gives `Tutu' a distinctively 1980s feel which leads some to claim that Miles had `re-invented' jazz for the fourth or fifth time in his illustrious and multiply-groundbeaking career of continuous innovation. Well, that's stretching things a bit: `Tutu' is OK but hardly `great', in the same way `Do-Bop' is OK but not really a classic.

`Tutu' was certainly a new, fresh sound in 1986 and unlike anything else at the time which could be found under the `jazz' category. The album has a lot of energy and Miles' trumpet playing is as inventive and energetic as ever. However after several numbers it can begin to sound samey, and in the context of Davis' long career and particularly high-points such as `Kind of Blue,' `In a Silent Way' and `Bitches Brew', `Tutu' is justifiably seen by most (but not all) fans as a second-tier effort and not really one of his best works. The album is, however, easily accessible to the new-to-jazz listener and even to people who profess to `not like jazz' but are OK with high-energy electronic instrumental music, and so offers a gateway to the deeper and more interesting musical milestones of the genre.

RIP Miles. You never failed to surprise and delight us, even with your more hit-and-miss projects like `Tutu.'
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I have very fond memories of this album, which probably colour my views of it but it is, In my opinion currently rather underrated in Davis` late discography.

Davis` "comeback" had steadily been gaining momentum by the time "Tutu" was recorded and I well remember the impact it had on the general music scene at the time of it's UK release; it was very-well marketed and had extensive play exposure; throughout 1987 - 88 the title track seemed to be played everywhere - in record shops (remember those?) at art exhibitions, in clothes stores, as background music on TV shows; this was the album that cemented Davis` name and reputation with a new audience - certainly in this country - with people who hadn't heard "Kind of Blue" or any other Miles Davis albums for that matter.
I know that personal experience isn't a reliable measurement of fact, but this album just seemed to click with the many and diverse musicians I was around with at the time who otherwise had no interest in jazz or anything connected with it.
It is very much an album of its time; it's slickly produced, making heavy use of sampling, synthesizers and all manner of electronica; Marcus Miller had much to do with the production and his own electric bass playing, soprano sax and bass clarinet are to be heard. Davis plays his trademark muted trumpet throughout and the funky, riff-styled themes make good settings as he plays over and against them.
The album won Grammys in 1986 for best Jazz instrumental performance and in 1987 for best packaging (I did say it was well-marketed). While it isn't on the level of other Davis landmark recordings (the afore mentioned "Kind of Blue","In a Silent Way", "Bitches Brew") it was a landmark of sorts and set the pattern for subsequent albums. The jazz critics hated it, but it made Miles cool with a far broader range of listeners than anything else he'd done before.

This is still an album I listen to, especially now I have the CD, which - as the standard remastered reissue, has a run-time of just over 42 mins. In my view it was the best of those late "comeback" releases.
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on 9 May 2000
Miles Davis remains King of Cool.In the latter part of Miles' career this remains his most accessable rcording. It is Miles a in mostly restrained yet knowingly- funky mode.Multi-instrumental Marcus Miller composes most of these tracks and his Bass Clarinet brings an unusually deep and vibrant tone to the proceedings. Best moment- Perfect Way, Miles and Marcus tearing-up the Scritti Politi pop tune.Sure,it's commercial but Miles always did it in his own unique way- Perfect!
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on 29 December 2015
Excellent cd, very cool.
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on 13 February 2015
I totally hate jazz, and purists tell me this is Davis "selling out" and getting commercial. I don't care, it's just great to drive to
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on 22 April 2016
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on 5 May 2015
classic jazz album
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