By the mid-1980s, as recording practices began to embrace its digital future, the notion of creating fully produced tracks before a session, over which the headline artist would later add their part was becoming standard practice. But would this formula work for a legendary jazz musician, when jazz was supposed to be about collective interaction and spontaneous conversation? If there was an artist willing to test the new waters and see if jazz and this new technology could work together, it was Miles and Tutu was the album: his first for Warner Music and a critical and popular success on a level he had not enjoyed since Bitches Brew.
The man behind the triumph was Marcus Miller—primarily a bassist and producer but a versatile multi-instrumentalist who was only 27 at the time. He was nominated by Warner Senior VP Tommy LiPuma who had brought Miles to the label that same year and the choice made sense. Miller was a seasoned jazz player at home with modern studio techniques and the overlap of 1980s funk and jazz Miles was exploring at the time. He had already been a sideman with Miles in 1981, and he was cousin to Wynton Kelly, Miles’ longtime pianist in the early 1960s. The two clicked and Miller ended up composing most of the tracks on Tutu, and playing parts for bass, guitar, synthesizers, soprano saxophone, bass clarinet and drums.
- Backyard Ritual
- Perfect Way
- Don't Lose Your Mind
- Full Nelson