Tutu (album)

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Miles Davis-Tutu (album cover).jpg
Cover photograph by Irving Penn
Studio album by Miles Davis
Released 1986
Recorded Capitol Studios, Los Angeles; Clinton Recording, New York City; Le Gonks, West Hollywood
Genre Pop jazz[1]
Length 42:05
Label Warner Bros.
Producer Marcus Miller, Tommy LiPuma
Miles Davis chronology
You're Under Arrest
Music from Siesta
Music sample

Tutu is an album by the American trumpeter Miles Davis, released in 1986 by Warner Bros. Records. It was recorded mostly at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles and Clinton Recording in New York City, except the song "Backyard Ritual", which was recorded at Le Gonks in West Hollywood.[2] Davis received the 1987 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Soloist Grammy Award for his performance on Tutu.[3]


Originally planned as a collaboration with pop singer/songwriter Prince, Davis ultimately worked with bassist/multi-instrumentalist Marcus Miller. Miller wrote and arranged all the songs, except "Tomaas" (co-written by Davis), "Backyard Ritual" (by keyboardist George Duke), and "Perfect Way" (by pop group Scritti Politti). The music is strongly inspired by mid-1980s R&B and funk, with heavy use of synthesizers, sequencers and drum machines.

As indicated in the notes accompanying the album, Tutu was produced by Tommy LiPuma and Marcus Miller, with the exception of "Backyard Ritual", which was co-produced by Duke and LiPuma.

The album is named in tribute to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the first black Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa. The track "Full Nelson" refers to South African politician Nelson Mandela. Davis' much earlier 1947 composition, "Half Nelson", was named after bebop jazz bassist Nelson Boyd.[citation needed]

The cover was designed by Eiko Ishioka and photographed by Irving Penn. Eiko Ishioka received the 1987 Grammy Award for Best Album Package for her work as the art director.[3] The original vinyl album featured a coloured inner sleeve printed with the album credits on one side and a photograph of Davis' left hand (with middle finger depressed) on the reverse.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Retrospective reviews
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2.5/5 stars[4]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[5]
The New Zealand Herald 4/5[6]
The Penguin Guide to Jazz 3/4 stars[7]
Record Collector 4/5 stars[8]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[9]

Tutu was panned by contemporary jazz critics.[8] In his review for The Village Voice, music critic Robert Christgau gave the album a "B+" and said that it is "minor", but also Davis' "best in a decade". He found it useful as a collection of "catchy little" songs and wrote that, while Davis' earlier fusion at Columbia Records was "pure", improvised jazz-rock, Tutu is "more like pop-funk Sketches of Spain, with the starperson's trumpet glancing smartly off an up-to-date panoply of catchy little tunes, beats, and rhythm effects".[10] In 1990, Christgau wrote in retrospect that as Davis was taking advantage of the fusion movement he helped develop, "even schlock like Tutu and Amandla showed gratifying groove and class".[11]

Writing for Something Else! in 2006, S. Victor Aaron said:

But perhaps that best tune for this Miles Davis album was the one that was co-written by Miles himself, "Tomaas". ...With a reggae beat married to repetitive single note underpinned by some very nifty bass work by Miller, Miles and Miller (also on soprano sax) trade fours and eights in a rare opportunity for Miles to stretch out. Overall, though, the trumpet playing is subdued, probably more constrained by production than declining abilities. Rarely does the mute come off his horn.[12]


Between May and August 2010 Miller undertook the "Tutu Revisted" tour with a band comprising Christian Scott on trumpet with Alex Han on saxophone, Federico Gonzalez Peña on keyboards and Louis Cato on drums. In JazzTimes Miller said:

I'm finding that although the music mirrored the times in which it was created, there is so much in the music that still seems relevant today. Although we've replaced some of the super electro sounding elements, the melodies are still very cool. It feels like they have withstood the test of time. People seem to be feeling this music twenty years later. The musicians are really feeling it (and most of them were kids when the original album was released) and it's a great feeling for me.[13]

Track listing[edit]

"Full Nelson" dedicated to Nelson Mandela.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

All tracks composed by Marcus Miller except where indicated:

  1. "Tutu" – 5:15
  2. "Tomaas" – 5:38 (Davis, Marcus Miller)
  3. "Portia" – 6:18
  4. "Splatch" – 4:46
  5. "Backyard Ritual" – 4:49 (George Duke)
  6. "Perfect Way" – 4:35 (David Gamson, Green Gartside)
  7. "Don't Lose Your Mind" – 5:49
  8. "Full Nelson" – 5:06

Deluxe edition[edit]

Disc two (Live from Nice Festival, France, July 1986)
  1. "Opening Medley": 'Theme from Jack Johnson', 'Speak', 'That's What Happened' – 15:14
  2. "New Blues" – 5:20
  3. "The Maze" – 10:15
  4. "Human Nature" – 9:04
  5. "Portia" – 7:54
  6. "Splatch" – 17:10
  7. "Time After Time" – 7:22
  8. "Carnival Time" – 4:20



Production personnel[edit]

  • Producers - Tommy LiPuma and Marcus Miller
  • Musical arrangements - Marcus Miller
  • Producers (5) - Tommy LiPuma and George Duke
  • Musical arrangement (5) - George Duke
  • Executive producer - Tommy LiPuma
  • Engineers - Peter Doell and Eric Calvi
  • Assistant engineer - Maureen Thompson
  • Engineer (5) - Erik Zobler
  • Assistant engineer (5) - Mitch Gibson
  • Photographer - Irving Penn
  • Art director - Eiko Ishioka
  • Designer - Susan Welt


  1. ^ Hoffman, Frank, ed. (2004). Encyclopedia of Recorded Sound, Volume 1 (2nd ed.). CRC Press. p. 616. ISBN 0203484274. Retrieved June 26, 2013. ...Miles Davis's last pop-jazz albums for Warners Bros. (Tutu [1986], and Amandla [1987]). 
  2. ^ Tutu (deluxe edition reissue booklet). Miles Davis. Warner Jazz. 2011. 8122797687. 
  3. ^ a b "Past Winners Search | GRAMMY.com". grammy.com. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  4. ^ Yanow, Scott (2011). "Tutu - Miles Davis | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 8 August 2011. 
  5. ^ Fordham, John (May 19, 2011). "Miles Davis – Tutu: Deluxe Edition – review". The Guardian. Retrieved June 26, 2013. 
  6. ^ Reid, Graham (June 4, 2011). "Album review: Miles Davis, Tutu: Special Edition". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved June 26, 2013. 
  7. ^ Cook & Morton 1992, p. 273.
  8. ^ a b Waring, Charles (June 2011). "Tutu Revisited". Record Collector (389): 97. Retrieved June 26, 2013. 
  9. ^ Considine et al. 2004, p. 215.
  10. ^ Christgau, Robert (October 28, 1986). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved June 26, 2013. 
  11. ^ Christgau 1990, p. 463.
  12. ^ S. Victor Aaron (2015-06-21). "Miles Davis - Tutu (1986) | Something Else!". Somethingelsereviews.com. Retrieved 2015-06-25. 
  13. ^ "Jazz Columns: Marcus Miller Revisits Music of Tutu on Tour - By Lee Mergner — Jazz Articles". Jazztimes.com. Retrieved 2015-06-25. 


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]