10 songs that bring back memories of my travels: Johny Pitts’s playlist

The TV presenter and author’s personal selection basks in memories of Route 66, Marseille, Tokyo and Miami Vice

My dad passed away in December 2019. Shortly before he died, after reading my book Afropean, Dad told me to listen to Miles Davis’s output during the 1980s, specifically “the Miles Davis reggae track” from the album Tutu. Despite winning a Grammy, this album emerged during Davis’s late period, when his star was burning out (with a cameo as a pimp in Miami Vice, and so on), and isn’t necessarily the era jazz aficionados look to when talking about Miles. To me, though, it evokes a sort of experimental, peripheral black space – out of sync with expectations, yet the ultimate expression of the African diaspora. I could imagine this music providing the score to an independent film noir by Melvin Van Peebles, for instance. Tutu transports me to that imaginative African geography known as “the Black Atlantic”, and was the album that got me through 2020; don’t lose your mind, indeed. Thank you, Dad.

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