Rubberband is the record that would have kicked off Miles Davis’ late-career stint on Warner Bros., had the plug not been pulled before it was finished. Instead, Davis and his bassist/chief collaborator Marcus Miller issued Tutu, and Rubberband was all but lost to history. What we hear now is not exactly what was left in the vaults: It’s been “finished”—brought into the 21st century by the original producers, namely Attala Zane Giles, drummer Vince Wilburn, Jr. (Miles’ nephew), and guitarist Randy Hall. Vocalists Ledisi and Lalah Hathaway, among others, lend their feature spots a contemporary vibe. But the atmosphere of dance beats and R&B vamps, synth textures, and rock-tinged guitars, with that legendary trumpet sound weaving in and out through it all, is solidly in the wheelhouse of post-comeback Davis. Shelving it and going with Tutu might have been the right call, yet Rubberband yields some great moments, like the sophisticated chord licks on the romantic ballad “So Emotional,” or the tight fusion guitar/soprano sax unison lines of Mike Stern and Bob Berg on “Maze,” which recalls the flavor of Stern’s solo work from this period. (Stern returns to wail with bebop fluency on the closing title track.) The two-part “Echoes in Time / The Wrinkle,” an out-of-tempo trumpet/synth intro leading into extended party-time funk, seems to encapsulate a lot of what Davis was after at this stage.

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