Miles’s comeback album is a mixed bag featuring three different bands and an eclectic mix of jazz-swing, funk, rock and disco. Miles’s chops are down but he still manages to convey much feeling on many tunes. Highlights include the high-energy funk workout “Aida” and the stirring “Fat Time.” The disco tune “Shout” and the soul ballad title track (with vocals) raised the hackles of many, but pointed the way to Miles’s pop recordings of the mid-1980s.
Excerpt from The Last Miles:
The Man With The Horn: Barry Finnerty and Sammy Figueroa on how the music was prepared
When asked about how the band prepared for The Man With The Horn recordings, guitarist Barry Finnerty recalls: “Prepare? You just showed up. Miles was pretty unpredictable. He might have planned to do something but if that didn’t go right he’d try something off the cuff.” Percussionist Sammy Figueroa adds: “It was a challenge because you might do something one day and the next it would be different and so I’d say to Miles, ‘we didn’t do this yesterday,’ and Miles would say ‘fuck you, this is not yesterday, this is today.”
Figueroa continues. “He didn’t really have a form. He had an idea of how it would evolve but there wasn’t much of a structure. He would hear something in his head and he would come into the studio and play a couple of notes on a piano. Then he’d say ‘let’s play through this,’ and we would start playing. He would point at people and say things like ‘don’t play on this, play later.’ He would go through the band, ‘okay, you play,’ and he would orchestrate it. When he had finished he would say to you ‘remember what you did?’ and I’d say ‘yes,’ and he’d reply ‘that’s what I want you to do, no more, no less,’ and he’d do that for every musician.”