In a Silent Way

In a Silent Way

4.2 4
by Miles Davis
     
 

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In a Silent Way may be the spaciest album Miles Davis ever made. Augmenting his quintet with guitarist John McLaughlin and electric pianist Joe Zawinul, Davis dispensed with individual songs of conventional length, instead having the band stretch out on four lengthy tracks. Despite the additional players, everything about the music is stripped-down: Harmony,See more details below

Overview

In a Silent Way may be the spaciest album Miles Davis ever made. Augmenting his quintet with guitarist John McLaughlin and electric pianist Joe Zawinul, Davis dispensed with individual songs of conventional length, instead having the band stretch out on four lengthy tracks. Despite the additional players, everything about the music is stripped-down: Harmony, rhythm, and melody become secondary to impressionistic texture. The intertwining tracks conjure up visions of the vast expanse of the cosmos, with keyboard lines darting about like shooting stars and evocative solos shimmering like the tails of comets. While bassist Dave Holland and drummer Tony Williams map out the barest of funk patterns, Davis and Wayne Shorter, who lays down his first recorded soprano work, devise lyrical improvisations whose open-ended manner adds greatly to the album's overall sense of mystery. Considering Davis's epochal Bitches Brew was just around the corner, In a Silent Way can be heard as the calm right before the storm.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Listening to Miles Davis' originally released version of In a Silent Way in light of the complete sessions released by Sony in 2001 (Columbia Legacy 65362) reveals just how strategic and dramatic a studio construction it was. If one listens to Joe Zawinul's original version of "In a Silent Way," it comes across as almost a folk song with a very pronounced melody. The version Miles Davis and Teo Macero assembled from the recording session in July of 1968 is anything but. There is no melody, not even a melodic frame. There are only vamps and solos, grooves layered on top of other grooves spiraling toward space but ending in silence. But even these don't begin until almost ten minutes into the piece. It's Miles and McLaughlin, sparely breathing and wending their way through a series of seemingly disconnected phrases until the groove monster kicks in. The solos are extended, digging deep into the heart of the ethereal groove, which was dark, smoky, and ashen. McLaughlin and Hancock are particularly brilliant, but Corea's solo on the Fender Rhodes is one of his most articulate and spiraling on the instrument ever. The A-side of the album, "Shhh/Peaceful," is even more so. With Tony Williams shimmering away on the cymbals in double time, Miles comes out slippery and slowly, playing over the top of the vamp, playing ostinato and moving off into more mysterious territory a moment at a time. With Zawinul's organ in the background offering the occasional swell of darkness and dimension, Miles could continue indefinitely. But McLaughlin is hovering, easing in, moving up against the organ and the trills by Hancock and Corea; Wayne Shorter hesitantly winds in and out of the mix on his soprano, filling space until it's his turn to solo. But John McLaughlin, playing solos and fills throughout (the piece is like one long dreamy solo for the guitarist), is what gives it its open quality, like a piece of music with no borders as he turns in and through the commingling keyboards as Holland paces everything along. When the first round of solos ends, Zawinul and McLaughlin and Williams usher it back in with painterly decoration and illumination from Corea and Hancock. Miles picks up on another riff created by Corea and slips in to bring back the ostinato "theme" of the work. He plays glissando right near the very end, which is the only place where the band swells and the tune moves above a whisper before Zawinul's organ fades it into silence. This disc holds up, and perhaps is even stronger because of the issue of the complete sessions. It is, along with Jack Johnson and Bitches Brew, a signature Miles Davis session from the electric era.

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Product Details

Release Date:
08/20/2002
Label:
Sony
UPC:
0696998655621
catalogNumber:
86556
Rank:
8337

Related Subjects

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Miles Davis   Primary Artist,Trumpet
Herbie Hancock   Electric Piano
Dave Holland   Bass
John McLaughlin   Guitar,Electric Guitar
Wayne Shorter   Soprano Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Tony Williams   Drums
Joe Zawinul   Organ,Electric Piano
Armando Anthony Corea   Electric Piano

Technical Credits

Bob Belden   Reissue Producer
Michael Cuscuna   Reissue Producer
Teo Macero   Producer
Russ Payne   Engineer,Remixing
John Ephland   Liner Notes
Randall Martin   Reissue Design
Lee Friedlander   Cover Photo
Mark Unterberger   Packaging Manager,Package Manager
Val Wilmer   Back Cover
Frank Glenn   Liner Notes
Stanley Tonkel   Engineer

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