“Jazz-rock fusion”… a label that has inspired dozens of mediocre records! But here it is in its primeval and arguably never to be bettered form – a groundbreaking showcase for the talents of artists at the peak of their skills and an addictive and quite brilliant example of true musical innovation. Like “Kind of Blue” a decade earlier Miles Davis assembles a stunningly adept peer group – including Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Jo Zawinul, John McLaughlin, Tony Williams, Chick Corea & Dave Holland – and then pushes their and his playing to previously undiscovered heights. The end result?… jazz improvisation at its very best, with nothing detracting from the unstoppable flow of the satisfyingly tight melodic structures, despite the enormous complexity of what is actually going on, and with the complete record merging into a gloriously unified whole. “In a Silent Way” quickly draws you into its languidly ethereal atmosphere, driving poly-rhythms and wonderful extemporisations and, like all true jazz masterpieces, pays out enormous bonuses from repeat listening. One of the essential reasons why Miles Davis justifies his reputation and… a template for much future imitation and excess.
At last I've found a Miles Davis work I can stand. This is brilliant, mainly because it features Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, John McLaughlin, Joe Zawinul, (who wrote the title track), Tony Williams - all late 60s /early70s jazz/rockers, jazz/funkers, who rescue Davis from his usual non-stop, self-absorbed noodling and give the music direction, flow and drive.
Miles Davis' 1969 album In A Silent Way is a truly mesmeric and beautiful listening experience. Groundbreaking as it is, and setting the tone for his legendary follow-up album Bitches' Brew where Miles was to take his newly developing 'electric jazz' to the next level, it never ceases to amaze me how melodic and accessible In A Silent Way really is (or certainly this is how I feel it should be regarded).
For the sound on In A Silent Way, Davis took his previous classic quintet, retained Wayne Shorter (playing soprano sax on this album, not tenor, as listed on the sleevenote), Herbie Hancock and Tony Williams, replaced Ron Carter with Dave Holland on bass and brought in additional keyboards players Chick Corea and Joe Zawinul (who also composed the album's title 'track'). In addition, Davis enlisted the services of young British guitarist John McLaughlin, who Tony Williams had brought to the US to play in Williams' own band, and who Davis had never heard until the day before the planned recording session for In A Silent Way! This is another example of the way Davis was able to spot (and nurture) talent, and, in effect, create (and make work) a great improvised band.
Given the extent of the resulting eight-piece band, the sound of the music produced is remarkably sparse and subtle. In effect comprising just two extended compositions, each following a classic sonata (exposition, development, recapitulation) structure, the melding together of Zawinul's organ, plus additional two electric pianos, with any of Davis, Shorter or McLaughlin soloing over the top, produces some exquisitely melodic and rhythmic sounds - resulting in a sound-scape which, quite frankly, it is hard to find the words to describe.
Along with John Coltrane's A Love Supreme, I regard In A Silent Way as one of the most seminal jazz (and indeed, music) recordings ever made.
Recorded in 1969, this was the apotheosis of the jazz fusion style that the Davis quintet had been developing over the last few years since the recording of ESP. It's a sublime record, and shows just what an innovator Davis was.
It takes the modal jazz styles that Davis had made his own over the previous decade, and deftly mixes them with elements such as electric guitars to provide two extended suites of music that are just someplace else. All the hallmarks are there, the polyrhythmic backing, the soaring solos, Miles' own sweet and lyrical trumpet weaving its way in and out of the tune. But there is something else, a feeling, an ambience that just lifts this to a new level and makes it music that you can just become completely lost in.
As with much late 60's early 70's Miles this album is edited superbly by teo marceo there are examples of this less staight ahead jazz aproach on previous albums but this marks the beginning of my favourite Miles period simply a great album John Mclaughlin plays some of the best guitar of his career great ensemble playing Miles on top form