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Miles Davis - In A Silent Way CD (album) cover


Miles Davis


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.30 | 643 ratings

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4 stars Ten years after Miles Davis shows the world what Cool Jazz is about, he releases this album and shows the world what his vision of what a fusion of jazz and rock music could be. On his 1968 album Miles In The Sky he introduced electric piano; with his next album he adds electric bass. This album adds electric guitar and with it comes elements of rock'n'roll music. This was a controversial album when it was released. Like Bob Dylan before him, Miles got labelled a "sell out" for going electric. Both jazz and rock critics were confused; generally the former hated In A Silent Way and the latter liked it a little more. This album links Miles' first flirtations with electric jazz (the last two albums) with the avant-jazz-rock of Bitches Brew, an album that would be even more controversial than In A Silent Way. Despite being controversial, or maybe because of it, In A Silent Way sold better than the last few Miles releases.

A major difference from before is the way producer Teo Macero uses editing and tape-splicing to rearrange what has already been recorded. If including electric piano/guitar and rock rhythms into the music was not enough, having the final product be a studio creation was more than jazz purists could handle. Macero used the classical sonata form to rearrange the music already recorded into what the album ended up sounding like. English bassist Dave Holland returns from the last album where Ron Carter played electric bass; Holland only plays acoustic double bass here. Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter and Tony Williams are all back again but it's the two new guys in town who make this album a who's who of future jazz fusion.

English guitarist John McLaughlin and Austrian keyboardist Josef Zawinul would both make important contributions to this album, yet the involvement of both came almost by accident. Davis met McLaughlin for the first time the day before In A Silent Way was recorded; he was so impressed with him he invited him to the recording session. The rest, as they say, is history. Having two electric piano players already was apparently not enough and Miles wanted an organist as well. Originally he wanted Larry Young but Zawinul ended up taking the position. Zawinul brought with him a little folky ditty called "In A Silent Way." The group recorded it the way it was written by Josef; Macero then proceeded to rape it, butcher it and basically just have his way with it. The end result sounds nothing like the original.

That part bookends the title track while the "It's About That Time" part was written by Davis and is the rockiest the album gets. Much closer to jazz-rock than the first side-long piece "Shhh/Peaceful." Both McLaughlin and Williams are more subdued here, with Williams basically only using his hi-hat for repeated patterns. No beats or drum fills. This track draws you in with its hypnotic repetition. This has a vibe similar to some of the space rock and Krautrock coming out at the time. You can see(hear) how this track had an influence on some ambient music. An important album but it's not my fav from Miles' fusion period. In the next five years his music would just get louder, weirder, funkier and more raw. I give this 4 stars.

zravkapt | 4/5 |


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