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

IN A SILENT WAY

Miles Davis

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
4 stars 4.5 stars really!!!

OK, sonny Miles, you're in deep crap now. You were only tolerated by pure jazzers last year with your 'lectric poop, but you had to mess it up, screw it up, you no good judas-sing traitor and your hoodlums friends calling themselves your new band. Please refund us from your private pocket. - The REAL jazzers society!!!

OK, guys I admit it, I took money (loads of it) from these backwards idiots to start my review with their ugly hate splattered all over this PA page, but since Max won't reimburse my professional costs... . It's rather dismaying that some people actually thought this way and started yelling, covering IASW's superb layers of ambiances, thus not being able to actually hear how excellent an album this is. With his quintet out of the way, he assembled his new group from the two versions he had present on FDK, Shorter Hancock & Williams from one part, and Corea & Holland from the other and adding Joe Zawinyl on organ and McL on electric guitar.

And right from the first notes you get an organ layers underlining a great electric piano and McL's superb guitar interventions and the 18-mins+ Shhhhh/Peaceful track is under way for then-unheard musical soundscapes that were both written and improvised. It must be noted that if Miles was breaking ground, he wasn't the only one as he was aware of his buddy Mal Waldren "playing with a bunch of German hippies and doing some interesting [&*!#]".

The flipside is no less interesting with the slower title track divided into three sections, the middle one being a much faster and longer called "it's about that time", where Herbie and Chick layer the bottom of the track on electric piano, while Zawinul gradually increase volume on his organ and heads to the forefront, .before leaving it to Miles to wrap it up before the title track returns. So if you progheads were drooling at two keyboardists playing together, this album has three of them and collaborating beautifully together.

The only thing missing to this album is a drawn artwork ala BB or MITS and while the present picture might be the last one featuring him until he came back in the 80's. Another slight remark is that the albums just before this one (FDK & MITS) were nearing one hour, that you wonder why this one is clocking below the 40 minutes and the remasters presented no bonus tracks, either real or alternate takes. Of course there are the "complete IASW sessions" boxset, but I found that to be deceiving as most of the sessions were acoustic and there were still some FDK tracks included. A first rate album, bringing the rock realm to whomever wanted among jazzers, and the first album that awakened the rock crowd to a jazz realm. Groundbreaking, and breathtaking

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#179608)
Posted Friday, August 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
darkshade
COLLABORATOR
Jazz Rock/Fusion Team
5 stars Forget Bitches Brew. This is the first album with Miles Davis in FULL jazz-rock mode. And what an album. This is, in my opinion, the superior album to BB. It also sounds much different that the album that came after. It's quite spiritual in sound, with great melodies and solos. All keyboardists shine on this one, and this is John McLaughlin's first appearance in a MD album. Also this is the last album Tony Williams would be on, before he left for Lifetime.

I like to think of this album as the calm before the storm. The 'storm' being Bitches Brew. And it really is. This album is so 'calm' and really laid back. Then immediately, with the next album, you are barraged with dissonance and chaos and serious funk that is Bitches Brew. Sometimes I think about the fact that Bitches Brew came out right after this and it gives me chills.

I must mention that Joe Zawinul (Weather Report, The Zawinul Syndicate) is all over this album, playing and composition. He really makes this album what it is (besides Miles of course). The use of electric piano is especially worthy of purchase!

Speaking of which, Miles' playing on this record is some of the best and fluid of his playing I've ever heard. It's so weird how fierce and angry it would sound on the next album.

This is one of those albums that's hard to describe, especially since there's only 2 songs. If you haven't heard this album yet, get it. This is one of the most beautiful Miles Davis albums ever, right next to Kind of Blue. And of course highly influential in the world of jazz-rock. Essential.

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Send comments to darkshade (BETA) | Report this review (#179645)
Posted Friday, August 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars A rare album that deserves respect both for both the music itself and for the influence it had on a genre; and one that can, hopefully, still be enjoyed. This album was one of the big leaps that Miles took - like Birth of the Cool, and Kind of Blue - here, Miles was using electric instruments and rock themes for the first time; the phrase pushing the boundary really seems to apply here, at least in the context of an established jazz musician moving beyond his comfort zone. Bitches Brew which followed was a development of this, and was possibly (in my humble) the better album - but In a Silent Way stands on its own merit; Miles' playing is superb, and Zawinul is a major contributor. Absolutely essential.

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Send comments to Phil (BETA) | Report this review (#179704)
Posted Saturday, August 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I don't know where to start. The music is excellent and really speaks for itself, but you propably want to know a bit more about a record before you buy it, so here we go now...

If you are after short songs with catchy melodies, you can very well stop reading now. Shh/Peaceful (18 min.) has the band improvising over a 16th note hi-hat pattern and only one chord.. There is very little variation, so as the song goes on, the little things come increasingly important. I always wonder if Tony Williams got bored playing the same thing for so long. There are bits where it sounds like he's just about to take off, but then restrains himself and goes back into that same pattern.

Perhaps he walked off the studio, since the title track doesn't feature any drumming. Just a beautiful melody over a constant bass note. However, Miles apparently persuaded him to return, so It's About That Time features another ultra-simple beat with hi-hat and snare drum. This is the most uptempo section of the album and even features two (!) catchy riffs. John McLaughlin and Wayne Shorter play solos before Mr Davis himself takes over, and during his solo, Williams finally blows his top and explodes into a very wild beat, bashing his drums extremely loud. Once Miles finishes his solo, he takes a very threatening look at Tony, who returns to his earlier beat. The album then finishes with a reprise of In A Silent Way.

I like this album very much, and so did Miles. When the LP was originally released, he immediately phoned Joe Zawinul and told him how excited he was about it. Indeed, this may very well be one of his greatest achievements.

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Send comments to St.Cleve Chronicle (BETA) | Report this review (#179768)
Posted Sunday, August 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Most feel that "In A Silent Way" is the very first Fusion record ever recorded. Yet this isn't the fiery Fusion one would associate with that genre. In fact the title of this album is a hint of the style of music that is found on this disc. It's quiet, subtle, mellow,atmospheric and...well you get the idea. When I first saw the lineup that played on this record my chin was sore for weeks (jaw hitting floor). Miles Davis on trumpet and Wayne Shorter on sax take care of the horns. Joe Zawinul, Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock on keyboards, John McLaughlin on guitar, Dave Holland on bass and Tony Williams on drums. Of course Zawinul and Shorter would go on to form WEATHER REPORT, Williams would leave after this album to form TONY WILLIAMS LIFETIME, Corea would form RETURN TO FOREVER and Hancock his own solo project.

In the liner notes it says "For every member of this group, playing with Davis was a turning point". It was like this was university for them, and when they graduated with the completion of this record and having learned Davis' leadership style, they were free and capable to lead on their own. Dave Holland says "Miles knew if he picked the right person and just gave them enough room, he'd get fantastic music". He also says "Miles got involved and very engaged, but in a gentle way...people who played with him had the opportunity to do their thing, to do their stuff...that's all a musician ever wants...(He) never said much about what the music should be; he mostly created a setting and asked you to figure out what you were supposed to do. He had enough trust in you to do that". There are two side long tracks on this record.

"Shhh/Peaceful" opens with organ (Zawinul) as cymbals, keys, bass and guitar all do their thing. So much here to digest yet it's so gentle and unassuming.Trumpet before 2 1/2 minutes as Davis seems to lead and interplay with the organ for quite some time. Other sounds though are also doing their thing.The bass comes more to the surface before 4 1/2 minutes. Check out the electric piano (Corea or Hancock?) 5 minutes in. A change 6 minutes in as guitar and electric piano start to lead the way. Sax before 9 1/2 minutes. Piano sounds great 11 1/2 minutes in. A calm 12 minutes in as electric piano, cymbals, organ and guitar start to lead the way.Trumpet (before 14 minutes) and the organ are doing their thing again.

"In A Silent Way / It's About That Time" begins with gentle guitar and electric piano playing softly and slowly. Horns come in after 2 minutes. It changes after 4 minutes to the "It's About That Time" section.This is more dynamic with organ. It's hard not to move to the music 13 1/2 minutes in as drums become more prominant. It settles back before we get the opening section "In A Silent Way" back to end the last 4 minutes of this track.

4.5 stars. If your into early WEATHER REPORT you will want to check this one out. Heck if your into Jazz / Fusion you will need to check this out.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#193311)
Posted Sunday, December 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
Matthew T
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This was the album where Jazz Fusion was born. Miles last album Filles de Kilimanjaro was transitional where really the classic quintet of Herbie Hancock,Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and the superb drummer Tony Williams was their last recording. The Jazz Purists were horrified and all the young crowd thought fabulous. This was where Miles left the live club scene and after this album played stadiums with rock bands as diverse as Steve Miller to Crosby,Stills,Nash and Young.This is a complete transition to what Miles was playing previously and basically he left the bop scene behind to never return. He stated that he was sick of playing My Funny Valentine and wanted new directions to follow.

Every musician who particapated in this recording has gone on to form their own fusion bands. Everyone of them is renownded as pioneers in Jazz Fusion. Bands such as Weather Report, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return To Forever, Lifetime, Dave Holland and the Herbie Hancocks albums. I could go on forever about the band members careers in Jazz . This would have to be one of the most talented Jazz bands of this calibre ever assembled.

The first track is by far my favourite on the album Shh/Peaceful. The track starts with a wash of key boards and then Miles comes in for his solo and what more can you say.This a wonderful Jazz album and would have to be my most liked Fusion album.

The second track In a Silent Way/It's About Time starts with John McLauglin' guitar over a keyboard (Fender) Miles loved the sound and Miles comes in for beautiful low key solo which slowly builds pitch. This track is basically 2 pieces with the quieter section at the beginning and end where Miles plays in both with that beautiful tone that he had. The middle comprises more uptempo where respective muscians take solos as in most jazz formats.

I am rating this album 4 stars. The 5 star are Kind of Blue,Milestones,and Miles Smiles none of them are fusion or progessive but they are superb Jazz Albums from the late 50s and mid sixties.

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Send comments to Matthew T (BETA) | Report this review (#199078)
Posted Wednesday, January 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Don't ask me how or why, but IN A SILENT WAY was my first ever experience of a Miles Davis album. I honestly had no expectations of the sound other than something in the grey matter of jazz, but I never expected what I actually heard. I almost felt like giving it an average rating until the surprise factor wore out and I slowly grew warm to everything.

Everything here sits on basically one idea of which there are plenty of solos and variations so that an album side is filled out. So, right off the bat, this is not for those who hate any type of jamming or those who hate pieces of music that just sit on one theme. I personally find it as the strength of the album, so much so that I pay more attention to the keyboards, bass and drums as opposed to the great trumpet and saxophone solos. Plus, I feel that there's a tight groove going on in the pieces which really puts a smile on my face.

My favourite section is the ''It's About That Time'' part of the title theme, although the ''Shhh/Peaceful'' movement is stronger (opinion only) as a whole. IN A SILENT WAY is really one of those albums of which I don't have any legitimate reason as to why I love it, but I do. This album is only for those who have the stomach for long, free-form fusion stuff. I guess I'm amongst the aforementioned ''those''.

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Send comments to Sinusoid (BETA) | Report this review (#224512)
Posted Saturday, July 04, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars 1969-70's is always hailed as the most important years in the 20th century.Political and cultural change had come about in the world drastically.Such as events as the veitnam war,the assassinations of Martin Luther King & J.F.K evoked riots and protests and were crucial in the change of society's perceptions.Movements began in vein in which people preached peace & love and to take a stand against "the system" (many of these were met by police brutality).Drugs such as Lsd were also extremely popular amongst the younger generation of musicians & their fans which would be a huge influenced on their music.Miles took influence by this sound and decided to bring change to his music leaving behind the typical acoustic jazz set up and being in electric instruments and a new type of band as well.Within his band nearly all of which went all to be hugely successful in jazz,fusion and world music.Amongst some were Joe Zawinul,who wrote most of second album track In a silent Way.He with Sax player Wayne Shorter would soon leave Miles' band to become the prominent members of Weather Report.Other jazz fusion pioneers such as John McLaughlin,Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock also feature.This in itself is what drew me to hear the album.It features possibly one of my favourite line-ups ever.Critics became furious with Miles' electric change and classed him as a sellout and obviously this resulted in alot negative reviews.But to their surprise Miles' not only progressed from the bebop daysbut introduced a whole new generation of music fans who would use this album to find their opening into the jazz world.

The album It's self only includes two tracks Shhh/Peaceful & In a Silent Way/It's About That Time.Both tracks really reflect the cultural psychedelic sounds of the decade but also gives you the feeling this is something different and special.Neither really include any solos of extreme intensity you could expect from bebop or a spontaneous leap into a chaos fuelled jam that you might expect from of rock music.But has the feel of ambience.Especially Miles' trumpet which still has enough pace and character not to render you unconscious.Ultimately each song still features the improvisation and main theme structures which are always prominent in jazz but has the sound of an music experiment which worked creating some new.I particularly love this album,as it introduced me to a whole new world of jazz and musicians alike.

Definitely an essential album for any music fan.

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Send comments to mrcozdude (BETA) | Report this review (#245508)
Posted Wednesday, October 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Josef Zawinul wrote the melody 'In a silent way' after visiting his Austrian family for Christmas. The tune became the title for a 1969 album that indicated perhaps the most far-reaching change of direction of that most restless of musicians, Miles Davis. Here we find not one but three fecund keyboard players (Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Jo Zawinul), the introduction of guitarist John McLaughlin, a bright young percussion star in drummer Tony Williams and probably the most daring use of studio editing on a jazz album? ever. Much has been written about the successor to this LP ? the sprawling double album Bitches Brew which was released a mere seven months later ? but that will not concern us here. We will only note that the brouhaha around that album often overshadows the brilliance of vision embodied in 'In a silent way'. The playing is exemplary throughout. According to Chick Corea, the fact that tapes were running constantly relaxed the musicians and 'made' the quiet atmosphere that pervades the music. The music itself is warm, spacious and indeed 'Peaceful'; lovers of electric piano will have much to savour here. The way Teo Macero edits the sections together was startling to some listeners at the time, one critic complaining that he had erroneously re-used one section. But it is this editing which gives 'In a silent way' its magic and power. With its two side-long pieces, its repetition, its relentless soothing groove, its spacey keyboards and floating trumpet and reed solos, this is a profoundly important and influential album. Don't worry if 'Bitches Brew' horrifies you and 'Kind of Blue' is just too jazz, if you are a lover of progressive music, this is the Miles album you need (other than Jack Johnson, but that's another story). Vision & Innovation: 30/30; Playing & Composition: 28/30; Listener Enjoyment: 28/30; X-Factor [cover, extras, reviewer bias] 10/10. Total: 96/100 -> 5 Stars.

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Send comments to BeeJayMelb (BETA) | Report this review (#246973)
Posted Wednesday, October 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Quiet One
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars The Shape of Jazz to Come

Before Soft Machine, Frank Zappa, Santana, Nucleus and any other group which played a style that approximated to the jazz rock sound we all know that groups such as Return to Forever, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Weather Report popularized, there was Miles Davis and his ''electric'' bands, in which he fused jazz compositions with rock instrumentation such as the electric guitar, the organ and electric keyboards. While Miles was definitely not the first Jazz musician to use an organ or electric guitar in music, but he sure was one of the first to use them with a rock-approach and the result was this, Bitches Brew and a whole bunch of other innovating albums released through the first half of the seventies.

In A Silent Way features a wide variety of musicians in which after this album(and Bitches Brew) would later go and form their own band inspired by the experience these albums by Miles Davis gave them: John McLaughlin who would later make his own powerful and groundbreaking Jazz Rock band, Joe Zawinul would join forces with Wayne Shorter to create Weather Report, Chick Corea would lead his own Jazz Rock group called Return to Forever, Herbie Hancock would create some weird and innovating avant-fusion stuff under his own name, while Dave Holland and Tony Williams would get there name as highly capable jazz/fusion musicians.

However, don't let this five-star line-up trick you, in here they don't play as they would later be known-of. Quite on the contrary, all musicians on board play as-a-whole settling some fantastic, though very subtle, jazz moods in both 18+ minutes compositions, yes that goes for John McLaughlin too. Chick and Herbie are playing some very warm and delicate electric keyboards to full-fill that gentle mood but also giving the compositions some groovy aspect, while Joe plays the organ giving a very mysterious atmosphere, very ala Larry Young(who was the one intended to play the organ in the first place!). Tony is probably the one which gives less interest, but that doesn't take credit for his essential though tranquil rhythms he settles, while Dave every now and then supports some notes to give more depth to the notes already played by the keyboard players. Miles and Wayne do the same job as both keyboardists and guitarist, adding a grabbing, though repetitive and smooth, melody.

As a result, both compositions really trap you into an aura of tenderness and nothingness in which flows without a single flaw. Indeed they played in a silent, but oh so effective and gentle, way!

While definitely you got to be able to listen to some jazz music to appreciate this, you're not obliged to love the genre. A truly groundbreaking record of the time, and a definite classic of Jazz Rock and Progressive Music; you might not be able to appreciate this at first listen since it's rather long and very subtle, but some dedicated time is sure to please you in the end, that is if you can handle music without riffs, flashy solos and whatever that the modern Prog stereotype is about.

5 stars: not a masterpiece of 70s fusion, because, well, it wasn't released in the 70s! But also because it's not really "fusion" in the way Mahavishnu Orchestra and the like are. In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew are the foundations of the fusion movement, let's call it Proto Fusion of the best kind.

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Send comments to The Quiet One (BETA) | Report this review (#247007)
Posted Wednesday, October 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Like many other prog fans, I've been familiar with this album and Bitches Brew for ages. I love them a lot, but never ventured much beyond them to discover what this Miles Davis phenomenon is really all about. So I can't judge these albums in the context of Davis' career and certainly not within the jazz scene from which it emanated.

But going by what my ears tell me this sure is an amazing album. It's not the wild and rocking style of jazz-rock as it would be popularized by Mahavishnu Orchestra and others in the 70's. Instead it still has the subdued mood of traditional jazz, a delicate balance of melancholy, energizing rhythms and vivacious musical performances. The bass guitar is rather prominent but the drums are still very much in the back. The clean electric guitars and keyboards bring the sound slightly closer to rock.

In A Silent Way is one of the first albums of a traditional jazz artist integrating elements of rock music. In this case 'rock' means undistorted electric guitar and electric keyboards. But still it gives this soft mood music an extra dimension and makes it sound a more appealing to rock audiences then traditional jazz.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#281095)
Posted Sunday, May 09, 2010 | Review Permalink
lor68
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Well, this is the work of the definitive "artistic maturity" for a great artist such as Miles Davis, whose "impact"- in the history of the best cool jazz music genre- is important so far!!

For instance, here you find the first defined "fusion" experiments during his remarkable career in the sixties and- moreover-the improvisational moments upon the melodic structure and the repetitive sketches, which allow a kind of "reduction" concerning the music plot, represent some important features...even though- actually- the whole length should be over two hours, but the producer Teo Macero decided to cut down the duration to 80 minutes and then along with Miles even to 27 minutes: in fact at the end of the album divided into two sections, the main music phrases have been repeated twice, probably in order to let him play in a more concise manner... in particular here you find the most remarkable phrasing and also his trumpet is extraordinary.

"Shhh/Peaceful" is a great jam, enriched by means of a fine harmony, being supported by three keyboardists and the jam led by the guitarist and the sax player as well.

As a matter of fact, the connections between several different elements , create a big contrast in the composition and also regarding of track#2- "In A Silent Way/It's About That Time"- which is different from the tune as it was originally written by J. Zawinul, characterized (as it was when He wrote the composition) by too many chords!

At the end, the final section of It's About That Time" is a bluesy clever piece of work, with its amazing groove, which is splitted by everything that could be composed by Weather Report for instance...the repetitions inside allow such a reflective and intense moment of art, rather than being a more serious impediment to the music growth!

Basically this is a must-have for the lovers of the intelligent cool jazz!!

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Send comments to lor68 (BETA) | Report this review (#438754)
Posted Monday, April 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Ground zero for fusion - at least from the jazz side of things (Zappa had been working diligently on a fusion sound from the rock side for some time by this point). Although In a Silent Way doesn't sound very much like any of the fusion acts which would be spawned in its wake - Chick Corea's Return To Forever, Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter's Weather Report, John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra, Herbie Hancock's Head Hunters work, the Tony Williams Lifetime, and Miles' own 1970s bands - it does nonetheless mark the point where a respected and widely-revered giant of the jazz scene went full electric and embraced a spirit of progressive, rock-influenced experimentation, which gave everyone the licence to follow.

Sonically speaking, it's almost ambient fusion; a swirling, foggy, soporific mass of sound out of which soloing emerges and fades from view. Kick back and relax and let it wash over you, or pay close attention to all the ins and outs of the album - it's your call, and both approaches to listening are rewarding in their own way. Plus, just look at the list of fusion acts I've outlined above whose key members performed on this album. How can any fusion fan not be interested in the sessions which brought all those talents together?

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#451195)
Posted Sunday, May 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
Starhammer
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars More peaceful than a bag of koalas high on opioids...

Whilst previous releases had hinted at what was to come, In a Silent Way is considered to be Miles Davis' first real fusion recording, and also heralded the arrival of his "electric" era.

The Good: The album features just two tracks, each split into three sections. Despite being more experimental than earlier works the overall sound is incredibly relaxed and has an almost hypnotic quality to it. The introduction of virtuoso guitarist John McLaughlin to the lineup, as well as the continued use of electric pianos both bring a certain 'edge' to the recording.

The Bad: Whilst the songs are indeed split into three parts, the final section in each is an identical repeat of the first. Although this is intended to provide context and closure and whatnot, to me it feels a little weak and it would have been cool to have at least a little variation in the reprise.

The Verdict: Different sound, same class.

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Send comments to Starhammer (BETA) | Report this review (#457714)
Posted Monday, June 06, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'In A Silent Way' - Miles Davis (8/10)

The musical excellence of Miles Davis' work aside, there is no denying that he has greatly shaped and influenced the way music has developed over the course of the 20th century. With 'In A Silent Way', Miles Davis added yet another dimension to his musical canon; that of 'fusion', which this album is widely regarded to have pioneered. Its historical relevance aside, there are some incredible things going on with 'In A Silent Way'. Assembling one of the greatest lineups that jazz has ever seen (including Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock), 'In A Silent Way' may not be as perfect as an album like 'Kind Of Blue', but as the vanguard for another era in Davis' career, the album is incredibly powerful, and rightfully deemed one of the most influential albums in the genre.

By 'fusion', this means that Miles Davis was beginning to incorporate increasing amounts of electric instruments into his sound. He brings this sound forth through two long jams, each encompassing one vinyl side. The first of these is 'Shhh/Peaceful', a fairly light meddle through electric guitars and some trumpet work. Over the course of the song, things gradually build, but the real focus is on the musicianship and chemistry between the band members, rather than any focused composition. The real highlight to the album however is in the second track, the title piece. The majority of the second track revolves around an eerie idea that gets developed upon as the blissful jam ensues, working out into a jazzy freakout from Davis himself, backed by chilled drums and nice keyboard grooves. After that, there is a very quiet reprise, featuring some ambient guitars and celestial keyboard flourishes. By the end, everything is made out to be the soundtrack to some beach sunset, relaxing and carefree. 'In A Silent Way' ends leaving the listener in a state of total calm.

The album sports some incredible work with rhythms and composition in the second half, and while the first half is not nearly as memorable, 'In A Silent Way' is made excellent throughout due to its brilliant musicianship. John McLaughlin features some of the warmest clean guitar tones I have ever heard in a recording, and the keyboardists Corea and Hancock- while not getting much room to show their skills here- really compliment the sound. The best way for me to describe 'In A Silent Way' would be to invent the term 'dream fusion'; especially in the way the keyboards are meant to scale up and down quietly over peaceful leads, everything is made out to be very surreal, and the effect of that is something that only musicians as good as these could make. A bit of a weaker first half, but 'In A Silent Way' remains an excellent piece of early jazz fusion.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#471715)
Posted Tuesday, June 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
thehallway
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars There's not enough to explore.

This album, Miles' first fusion one (and perhaps Jazz's first fusion one), has a very calm, peaceful feel to it. It's still highly rhythmic, but dynamically subdued and lacking in any explosive or heavy moments. This is actually hinted to in the titles of the two pieces. But that isn't the bad thing about it; I love the mood that Miles' band creates here. The problem for me is that there just isn't much material on the record, and very little variation on the few themes that are there.

Borrowing from the ABA or 'Sonata' structure of a typical Classical symphony, the pieces on 'In a Silent Way' have a friendly and accessible construction. However, the reprise of the first section, in both cases, isn't actually a reprise, but the EXACT same music simply repeated. I don't expect a "copy and paste" mentality from an album that pre-dates computers! This means that one quarter of the album is exactly the same one another quarter. Hence, there aren't many listenings you can handle before you get bored. I think the music itself is pleasant enough, but it's minimalistic (for example, the section entitled "Shhh" consists of a two-note bass ostinato and pure improvisation from the rest of the band). Minimalistic music is great when there's lots of it, but there isn't lots of this, and in any case, there isn't any development on it.

My favourite part is 'It's About That Time', which is very groovy and the most upbeat moment on the album. Because of this, and the more free nature of the 'In a Silent Way' intro/outro, the title track definitely works better than 'Shhh/ Peaceful'. The former song's two parts are almost indistinguishable, despite being quite good independently. I think the second piece has more to offer, and every band member has a significant role to play.

Miles Davis has always been 'variable' to my ears. Sometimes he is a genius, sometimes I can find him to be awful. 'In a Silent Way' is neither. It is culturally significant in terms of Jazz Fusion, and it is somewhat restrained (although this making it beautiful at times). It is also quite literally, repetitive. Ultimately, we cannot ignore that the album is a certain milestone. However (and here I shall do what Miles did and copy and paste my original theme).......

There's not enough to explore.

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Send comments to thehallway (BETA) | Report this review (#476495)
Posted Tuesday, July 05, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Miles Davis's fusion is a sound to be understood as much as appreciated. When he embraced it, he was already so prolific, his mind so creative, his style so appealing, that he defied labels and boundaries. But with fusion, the controversy begins. To some, it was just a natural turn for such a restless artist. To many, many others it is like he died in 1969. Or maybe possessed by some malign demon. That was around the time IN A SILENT WAY was released.

Miles's fusion is not for everyone, and might be detracted by both rock and jazz fans. But so is the case of progressive rock, anyway. In the end, it is a matter of realising the significance and impact of a musical genre, and it's legacy. Fusion's was huge. And it owes a great deal to Miles Davis.

There is a small controversy about where Miles's fusion adventure begins. It is true that he had already welcomed electric instruments in Miles in the Sky, and that it had tracks with a rock beat, as well. But fusion, as I see, is not just that.

There may be also some argument about bands like Mahavishnu Orchestra being jazz-rock or progressive rock. I leave it to the experts. Miles Davis, however, is truly FUSION. Neither jazz, nor rock, not even a simple blend in of such ingredients. A whole new genre. I don't see it as a subgenre of progressive rock, but as part of a trend on experimentalism and pushing the barriers of popular (and classical) music around the end of the Sixties. Sometimes fusion and prog converge. They are related in a certain sense, but still separate entities. It is not jazz either. This statement can be heard in both sides of the divide.

This is all to say that IN A SILENT WAY is the real landmark in fusion music. It is not the first, but it was certainly the most innovative and influential at its time. But that was not for long. For Miles would manage to top himself in another groundbreaking album, just a few months later: Bitches Brew. But this is another review.

There is a much bigger controversy about fusion and Miles's music, as well as his pupils, though: their direction towards both music and audience. Jazz purists split their response from disdain to despise. "Miles sold out".

I never fully understood what that means. That Miles wanted money? Professional musicians (even from lesser known bands), as the name says, make music for a living. So, they all want it in some way. Many of the jazz greats, by the way, managed to overcome poverty with that. On the other hand, Miles came from a middle-to-upper class background. Anyway, as in this world we need to work and earn money to survive, it is not even a matter of "right" or "wrong". It is a job. It is just supposed to be more creative and pleasing than sitting 8 hours a day in an office.

Is it that he wanted large audiences? Again, all professional musicians want and need an audience. Otherwise, they wouldn't be professionals. They might record just for themselves and earn their living somewhere else. The "acceptable" size of the audience is not only debatable, but irrelevant to evaluate the music itself.

Is it that he changed his music to please the listener? He did aim for another kind of audience: the young, and later the young blacks, in particular. But here there is some kind of double standard. Jazz players (and prog rockers) generally make music for a small and often middle and upper class audience. Who's to say that it is more autentic to remain attached to an inner circle then trying to reach the masses? Again, professionals need and want an audience, and even the most "genuine" of them shape their music around this in one way or another. Some musicians are openly proud of the fact that they are appreciated by a small group. And is it not possible to attach to a music style just to procreate this image (be it "indie-rock", "avant-garde" or something else)?

The matter, some say, is if the musician does the music of his/her "heart" or just want to sell records. Are the so-called "indie" or "avant-garde" musicians really being only true to their hearts or merely expressing an elitist feeling (even when the small group is supposedly working class, as in the case of punk rock)? On the other hand, I have seen people like Ian Anderson, who says the music he likes is blues and jazz, and that he's not generally interested in rock music, and makes it just to earn his living. One would say Jethro Tull is less original and hard-edged because of that?

There is another feature that turn up the heated discussions, besides audiences or electric instruments. Yes, Miles's albums from IN A SILENT WAY on ar HEAVILY edited. They weren't recorded in the sequence we hear, there is a lot of "copy" and "paste", and to some that means his music is not genuine, it is fake. What they don't get is that this is another concept of music, another kind of music. That's part of what makes it unique. Miles's producer, Teo Macero, deserves as much credit as Miles himself for this.

But what about IN A SILENT WAY itself? I didn't write too much about it. Make that another argument for the discussion. It is very hard to talk about it (to describe which instrument appears at the fifth or tenth minute, or who does the solo, is not really to "talk about").

One thing I can say. Pay close attention to John McLaughlin soloing through out the album. Magnificent example of jazz lead guitar. John is the most spotted soloist, besides Miles himself. That he gave a guitar player such a role in this recordings (instead of just marking the rythm as in Miles in the Sky and as used to be in jazz in general) it is a statement of intentions. He wanted to change, to create a new sound.

Incidentally, this is the first of a long lasting and long standing collaboration between the two. And John was being already greeted with such generosity. It opened doors and ears to this that is one of the most accomplished guitars players there ever was. He should be very grateful for this. And he is.

Another thing I can say is that the main theme, that opens and closes side two, is one of the most beautiful melodies, with the most heartly beautiful solos I ever heard. And to do him justice, let me add that it was composed by Joe Zawinul, not Miles Davis. But if you ever have the chance, try to listen to the rehearsal of this track in The Complete IN A SILENT WAY Sessions. You'll witness how this beautiful melody turned from a jazz tune to fusion milestone. Then, you'll comprehend the brilliance of Miles as an interpreter and band leader, his role in opening ways to the fusion music and the dimension of this revolutionary change. I don't use the word "revolution" that ofter. Believe me, this is a situation in which it is suitable.

The album cover clearly resembles the one from Kind of Blue. I don't know if that was intended, but, no matter what purists say, the parallel is valid. They were both watersheds for jazz and music in general.

Anyway, besides its originality, IN A SILENT WAY is great music. It is very well defined by the tracks's titles. It is smooth, jazzy, and less edited then the following album. In short, very much unlike the controlled chaos of Bitches Brew. Together, they make a beautiful pair. And that's another important acknowledgement about Miles: he never repeated himself. Anyone who listens carefully to his fusion albums knows they sound very different from one another. They all have a distinct character and a distinct emphasis in music exploration. If that's "selling out"... very few were able to make it in such an uncompromising way.

It is tough to realise it today, but Miles's late Sixties and Seventies music were really intended to the young of that time, even though they sound so strange and far from mainstream to today's ears. But the most important thing is: it withstood the test of time. Even after influencing a whole generation of musicians from the most varied genres, Miles still sounds original and unique. And as so, it will always appeal to the generations to come, although the ears of a majority may turn somewhere else. THAT is what means to be timeless music. All music will, someday, sound dated. Everyone knows that Beethoven wrote music in the 19th Century, for 19th Century audiences. It doesn't matter. They still listen to it today. Miles Davis's is like that.

Just listen to IN A SILENT WAY. And while listening, keep in mind: it's another kind of music. Our musical concepts and standards don't apply to it. If after that you still don't like, it does not prove that it was not good. Or that it's fake.

The controversy, by the way, only adds up to the universal appeal of Miles's work. As long as they're discussing it, it's because they're listening. And because it matters. That conclusion speaks for itself. Play it jazz or fusion, he's a giant. His music, Kind of Timeless. Kind of Genius.

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Send comments to bfmuller (BETA) | Report this review (#507075)
Posted Sunday, August 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars In A Silent Way is usually considered to be one of the first albums to blend traditional jazz with rock music, as well as one of the greatest albums in the fusion genre. Miles Davis had hinted at this fusion of jazz and rock music on a few previous efforts, but this observation from 1969 can safely be considered his first full-blown fusion effort. In A Silent Way is a little bit different from what you may be expecting from a fusion album, though - you'll hardly find any zany instrumental outbursts here. Apart from a few sections, this is a very subtle album that is focused mainly on quiet jazz ambiance and deep improvisation. The 'rock' element of In A Silent Way is mainly found in the instrumentation; the extensive use of electric guitar, electric piano, and organ was nearly unheard of in jazz music back in 1969. This is first and foremost a jazz album, and those seeking audacious rock rhythms and frantic soloing may be in for a slight disappointment, but it's an essential purchase for any open-minded fan of early jazz fusion music.

This album took longer for me to 'get' than a lot of other Miles Davis albums, for some reason or another. I guess an album that only consists of two sidelong tracks, both of which are only characterized by subtle rhythms and improvisations can take a little while to warm up to. In A Silent Way did eventually click with me, though, and after about six listens or so I began to understand what everyone else sees in this album. What initially struck me as boring noodling soon grew into genius solos, and the improvised chemistry between each of the musicians is truly remarkable. The album begins with "Shhh/Peaceful", which is (as the title suggests) a very quiet and subtle piece. It's a bit too long-drawn for my tastes, but there are plenty of great moments throughout the eighteen minute duration. Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea's electric piano playing both add lots of depth and layering to this piece. "In A Silent Way/It's About That Time" is my favorite of the two songs, and contains a few more traditional rock elements than the first track. The riffs also tend to change more frequently, and the ending is quite exciting.

Neither of the two songs draw extensively from rock music in terms of songwriting, but the electric instrumentation was sure to have jazz purists crying foul around the time of its release. John McLaughlin's warm electric guitar tones as well as the organ and electric pianos were, while still very subdued and gentle, pretty ambitious for jazz music at the time. Of course, the musicians playing these 'new' instruments were all top notch. If you look at the lineup and then consider all of the legendary jazz groups that formed from these guys, it's clear that Miles hand-picked some of the scene's most talented musicians for this session. The production courtesy of Teo Macero is very warm and clear - In A Silent Way sports one of the best fusion productions out there for sure.

Parts of In A Silent Way may feel a bit too long-drawn and unfocused for my tastes, but there's no denying that this is a revolutionary - and damn good - jazz fusion album. Anybody looking for an example of what jazz rock sounded like back in 1969 should be sure to check this classic out (if you haven't already heard it, of course). Although more subdued than a lot of other fusion classics, In A Silent Way should hold just as much appeal to rock and jazz fans alike. This may not be my favorite Davis album, but there's enough quality music and ambition here to let me consider it part of his essential canon. In A Silent Way deserves no less than 4 stars in my mind.

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Send comments to J-Man (BETA) | Report this review (#560189)
Posted Sunday, October 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
4 stars "In A Silent Way" is a jazz fusion paradise featuring Davis at his absolute best. In many ways this is his most accessible and most highly revered album. The lengthy compositions are really improvised jazz sessions that are interwoven with dark and light tapestries of sound.

Side one is driven by a glorious jazz beat and grinding Hammond, with some absolutely exquisite guitar work. It feels improvised but always has a direction and gets there. Along the journey there are wonderful sounds such as the hi hat work and of course Davis soulful trumpet.

Side two is the dreamier side that soon breaks into jazz patterns and musical shapes of incredible complexity and beauty. It is music created to generate moods. The main thematic point seems to be competing musicianship and allowing the artists to take off on their instruments. At one point we are lulled off to sleep with dreamy trumpets and chiming keyboards. Then the thunderous percussion kicks in and takes on a jazz excursion into dynamic soundscapes.

This, along with "Bitches Brew", is certainly one of the Miles Davis albums that will resonate with many prog listeners in comparison to some of his other less progressive albums.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#602104)
Posted Monday, January 02, 2012 | Review Permalink
VanVanVan
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars There was a period a couple of months ago when I would put this album on every night as I was going to sleep. It became a sort of ritual for me, and more importantly, it gave me a chance to listen to this album without any distractions, a privilege which is rarely afforded otherwise. I will freely admit that I am not nearly as knowledgeable about jazz fusion as I would like to be, but it doesn't take an expert to realize that this album is something special. I had listened to Miles Davis before, but this was really the first album of his I really got to know, and listening to his trumpet every night in the dark was really something special.

"Shhh/Peaceful" begins the album with a piano, guitar, and organ part that is indeed fairly peaceful despite the uptempo percussion part that persistently plays behind these instruments. Some bass joins the mix and almost immediately after the unmistakable trumpet of Mr. Davis himself jumps in. I'm sure that far better writers than myself have written more than I ever will about Miles' playing, but listening to this album it's impossible not to be captivated by the clarion tone of the horn. The trumpet simply commands the piece, taking center stage and perfectly complementing the playing of the musicians behind it. After a little while piano and guitar take the lead, and it's great stuff (with McLaughlin, Corea and Hancock, how could it not be?) but the magic really returns for me when Miles jumps back in. By this point the track has stopped living up to its name and is full of energy, a trend which continues for most of the meat of the track. This is music that is by turns hypnotic, psychedelic, jazzy (duh), experimental, and above it all, great.

"In A Silent Way" begins on a much calmer note, with guitar, keyboards, and bass weaving together a lullaby-like ambience for Miles to lay a crooning trumpet part over. This motif continues for quite a while before the tempo picks up and the keyboards start laying down a little chord progression that the guitar quickly matches, then begins soloing over. The repeated piano chords create a trance-like ambience that seamlessly forays into a bass-led motif with organ backup. Over it all, of course, Miles keeps on playing some of the smoothest, most natural sounding jazz I've ever heard. I can't think of too many other 20 minute pieces built on a repeating chord progression that can keep my attention, but this one certainly can, and by the time the first motif returns the listener's had a very memorable ride indeed.

I recognize that this is a much shorter review than I usually write, but I'm sure there are others out there who have described the music far better than I've been able to. I hope though, that I have been able to impress just how good this album is. It's infinitely listenable, compelling throughout its entire 40 minutes, and most importantly, it's got heart. You can hear the passion of every single musician who appears on this release, and that's really something to be cherished. Hard to argue that this is anything short of a masterpiece.

5/5

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Send comments to VanVanVan (BETA) | Report this review (#634032)
Posted Tuesday, February 14, 2012 | Review Permalink
EatThatPhonebook
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars 10/10

"In a Silent Way" is one of the essential Fusion records. A landmark achievement that never seizes to be so powerfully stunning.

"In a Silent Way" is for many Miles Davis' magnum opus, the album that officially started the Fusion genre. Some may even say it's the greatest Jazz record ever created, and as a matter of fact, if such a prestigious title would ever be officially labeled to any album, "In a Silent Way" would have a great chance in obtaining it. The famous musician just needed to get an absolutely stellar ensemble of musicians, almost all just as talented as he was, to reach such great heights.

As the first Fusion record, "In A Silent Way" starts off the genre quite smoothly: the music on the legendary album is quiet, peaceful, and never getting louder than it is. A record that for this reason might be a hard pill to swallow on the first spin, and might take several listens before it magically clicks. Fusion fans cannot deny that the basic, essential elements of the genre are present: electric guitars (by master John McLaughlin), electric keyboards (two legends, Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea) and the organ are always strong characteristics of the album, all three instruments of course playing very smoothly and delicately. Miles' trumpet is as usual sublime, haunting, with a seducing, sensual feel to it and with still a strong power of virtuosity. The crispy drums by Tony Williams give a suspended touch, while Dave Holland's bass grumbles like a beast. Not to forget another great, Wayne Shorter on saxophone, even though admittedly his contributions are not as essential as the others.

The two tracks, that cover the entire space of the album dominate each side, starting with "Shh/Peaceful", a relaxing, chill piece that remains of the same toned down mood for the entire eighteen minutes. The most curious thing then is how Miles managed it to sound constantly enjoyable. The song's musicianship is flawless, ir has an innovating structure, almost identical to the second side: The first part, "Shh", is somewhat climactic, where starting from an organ note almost all the instruments come in one at once a while before Miles' trumpet steals the show. The song then evolves almost unnoticeably into "Peaceful", the second section, with a great performance by John McLaughlin. The last minutes of the suite are dominated by repeating "Shh" identically. The second side, with the title track , has a very similar mood and feeling, however it is much more accessible in it's form and more melodic sounding, with once again the repetition of the first part of the song in the final minutes.

"In A Silent Way" is a revolution in Jazz music, an album that at the same time never bores and always intrigues and fascinates. The electric Miles Davis will go on and create other masterpieces like "Bitches Brew", but "In A Silent Way" is simply unforgettable, timeless, and still highly entertaining, even for someone who isn't familiar with Jazz music.

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Send comments to EatThatPhonebook (BETA) | Report this review (#645585)
Posted Sunday, March 04, 2012 | Review Permalink
Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars In a Silent Way is outstanding background music; although it never quite engages me, it is exceedingly gratifying in spite of that, and is far superior to Bitches Brew, released the following year. It is rhythmically repetitive, almost to a fault, but what Miles Davis and company do in the course of those thirty-eight minutes is enchantingly satisfactory.

"Shhh/Peaceful" Illusorily uptempo, this piece begins with an ethereal organ, electric guitar phrases, and electric piano tinkling in the backdrop before Davis enters with his dynamic trumpet performance over the rhythmic ostinato. The keyboards and guitar runs create an ethereal mood that textures the music beyond what the repetitive bass and hi-hat create.

"In a Silent Way/It's About That Time" Despite the previous title, this piece is initially the more peaceful and quiet of the pair. It retains a dreamy character for a fifth of the piece, and then takes off, exhibiting a feel that is nearly identical to the other opus. Herbie Hancock's electric piano provides a haunting element. Midway through, a wild bass groove appears. Eventually- finally- the drummer gets in on the action, creating a climactic motif that is the most exciting moment on the album and one of the best in Davis' lengthy career. John McLaughlin's electric guitar denouement is tranquil, creeping in like the lullaby that finally puts a child to sleep.

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Send comments to Epignosis (BETA) | Report this review (#663711)
Posted Sunday, March 18, 2012 | Review Permalink
Negoba
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Beauty that Transcends Genre

I came to Miles Davis differently than many on this site. I played brass instruments in middle and high school jazz bands, mostly songs with set arrangements and relatively short solo sections. Miles Davis was a little "out there" for me in those days but his technique and style were undeniable. As I got into guitar and learned about the fusion heroes of the 70's, BITCHES BREW was always part of the conversation. I checked out the seminal album, and still didn't get it. Late in college, I began my immersion in blues and then back to jazz. First I found KIND OF BLUE which remains one of my favorite records of all, deserving of its classic status. I actually looked backwards from there to BIRTH OF THE COOL era works, enjoying but not falling in love with that style. I finally picked up a copy of BB at a used record shop a few years ago and was still underwhelmed.

It was only after coming to this site that I saw that some fusion lovers were enjoying Miles' other fusion works more than BB. It was from this entry point that I found IN A SILENT WAY. It has now become my second go-to album from Davis, along side KIND OF BLUE. There is something just transcendant about this album. The bandmembers are simply so plugged into each other, the vibe so pure. While SILENT WAY superficially shares the basic sound of BB, it exceeds it on an emotional level by leaps and bounds. Where BB sounds like an excellent jam session, SILENT WAY feels like one of those works where the musicians were channelling something from another dimension. Athletes talk about being "in the zone," and all musicians can attest to knowing when that little special switch flips and something amazing happens. For me, I feel that all the musicians here are wide open with blazing beauty flowing through their instruments.

I never feel like "ok now it's Miles solo section" or that we dropping back into the main head of the song. (The second title song does have one thematic riff, but it weaves in rather than being used as an exposition.) SILENT WAY seems more like pure improvisation over a set groove, each player trying to tap into an emotional setting and then explore the scene. As the title suggests, these scenes evoke dark nights, mellow murmuring crowds. There is a sense of urgency but absolutely no aggression.

I have several albums rated as masterpiece in jazz-fusion, but none are better than this. Absolutely essential.

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Send comments to Negoba (BETA) | Report this review (#667319)
Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Came back to this after the Mahavishnu Orchestra expierence

As previously stated, this was the beginning, but as with a lot of new beginnings, it needed to ramp up. This is very accessable to those who may not be tolerable to the furious tempo of some of the later Jazz/Fusion efforts. As the title suggests, In a Silent Way is how the sound is and feels throughout.

Miles just really knows when to pipe in with his trumpet via the majority of the album. And it is "In a Silent Way" that he comes in and out. Even though this is John McLaughlin's first venture with Miles, his guitar work is so sutle that you would never suspect what would come after this. However, this is truely the beginning of the Jazz/Fusion/Rock era.

It is a 4 and a half star effort which I will round up to 5 since this started a whole new world Jazz called Fusion.

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Send comments to AEProgman (BETA) | Report this review (#810841)
Posted Sunday, August 26, 2012 | Review Permalink
zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Post/Math Rock Team
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.

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Send comments to zravkapt (BETA) | Report this review (#815216)
Posted Tuesday, September 04, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Josef Zawinul wrote the melody 'In a silent way' after visiting his Austrian family for Christmas. The tune became the title for a 1969 album that indicated perhaps the most far-reaching change of direction for that most restless of musicians, Miles Davis. Here we find not one but three fecund keyboard players (Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Jo Zawinul), the introduction of guitarist John McLaughlin, a bright young percussion star in drummer Tony Williams and probably the most daring use of studio editing on a jazz album ever. Much has been written about the successor to this LP - the sprawling double album Bitches Brew which was released a mere seven months later - but that will not concern us here. We will only note that the brouhaha around that album often overshadows the brilliance of vision embodied in 'In a silent way'. The playing is exemplary throughout. According to Chick Corea, the fact that tapes were running constantly relaxed the musicians and 'made' the quiet atmosphere that pervades the music. The music itself is warm, spacious and indeed 'Peaceful'; lovers of electric piano will have much to savour here. The way Teo Macero edits the sections together was startling to some listeners at the time, one critic complaining that he had erroneously re-used one section. But it is this editing which gives 'In a silent way' its magic and power. With its two side-long pieces, its repetition, its relentless soothing groove, its spacey keyboards and floating trumpet and reed solos, this is a profoundly important and influential album. Don't worry if 'Bitches Brew' horrifies you and 'Kind of Blue' is just too jazz, if you are a lover of progressive music, this is the Miles album you need (other than Jack Johnson, but that's another story). www.vinylconnection.com.au

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Posted Saturday, May 25, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Now this is a truly beautiful work of art! Miles Davis had been hinting at a new direction for a couple of years and with this seminal album he delivers. It's his first foray into what would go on to be called jazz-rock fusion, though I am sure to Miles it was just "music". This is an incredible album and one of several masterpieces he would give the world during his lifetime. The recording features some of the greatest musicians on the planet at the time - Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter, Dave Holland, Joe Zawinul, John McLaughlin & Tony Williams. Just an amazing collection of talent. Never really warming up to his mid-60s quintet, I feel that this is the best album Miles Davis released since Sketches of Spain. It's massive influence cannot be underestimated. This album along with Bitches Brew and Jack Johnson represent a trio of albums that would completely transform the jazz landscape. This was the new music and it was exciting. It was progressive, it was experimental and it rocked. This particular album is also very ambient. The feeling is of a group of musicians in on a secret that the world may not quite be ready for. It's hushed and meditative, but definitely inspired. The way Miles would approach recording at the time was basically to gather his musicians in the studio (or on stage), give a little direction, roll the tape and then let them jam. Ideas were developed on the spot. This is organic music making in it's purest form. Albums would then be edited down to something digestible for people to listen to. And on this album producer Teo Macero gets a lot of credit for splicing together these open-ended jams into something that could be put on an album and flow beautifully. The edits are noticable, but do not hinder the musical experience in the least and they are certainly not as dramatic as they would be on some the live albums Miles would release in the 70s. This album is essential to any lover of music.

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Send comments to Prog 74 (BETA) | Report this review (#1153092)
Posted Monday, March 24, 2014 | Review Permalink

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