Down Beat - 10/89, p.294 Stars
- Very Good - "...a precise and consistent sound that flows through the shifting instrumental combinations and lingers after the music has stopped..."
Personnel: Miles Davis (trumpet); Kenny Garrett (soprano & alto saxophones); Marcus Miller (soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, keyboards, guitar, bass, drums); Rick Margitza (tenor saxophone); Joe Sample (piano); George Duke (keyboards, Synclavier); John Bigham (keyboards, guitar, programming); Joey DeFrancesco (keyboards); Jean-Paul Bourelly, Foley, Billy "Spaceman" Patterson, Michael Landau, Steve Khan (guitar); Omar Hakim, Al Foster, Ricky Wellman (drums); Don Alias, Mino Cinelo, Bashiri Johnson, Paulhino Da Costa (percussion); Jason Miles (programming).
Producers: Marcus Miller, Tommy LiPuma, George Duke.
Engineers: Eric Calvi, Bruce Miller, Eric Zobler.
With the release of what turned out to be his final "band" album in 1989, Miles Davis had once again arrived at a new sound. And while the music on AMANDLA was certainly immersed in popular conventions, somehow the trumpeter managed to keep his sense of distinction alive and well. AMANDLA doesn't sound like any of the contemporary jazz records of its time.
In recording TUTU and SIESTA, Miles basically abdicated his bandleader functions to the multi-talented Marcus Miller, who in addition to his command of modern bass guitar techniques, handled reeds, woodwinds, guitars, keyboards and all manner of computer programming. By plugging in with the cream of his live collaborators on AMANDLA, Miles retained the big band sound of TUTU, but with a more human face--an enhanced sense of interplay and swing.
Tunes such as "Jo-Jo" and "Jill" engender an ongoing call response between front line and back line, between main and secondary themes, as Kenny Garrett's fat, burnished alto lines coil and strike around Miles' more circumspect muted phrases. The opening "Catembe" heralds the third world rhythmic locus which snakes its way through the entire album, from the big beat shuffle of "Big Time" through the Caribbean flavored backdrops and go-go beats of "Jo-Jo." The most affecting moments come on the title tune, which features chord changes reminiscent of Miles' traditional ballad style, and on the closing "Mr. Pastorius," where Miles finally reverts back to his open horn to pay tribute to the late bassist over a laid back swing beat, with poignant echoes of "I Didn't Know What Time It Was."