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A Sublime Sound-scape,
This review is from: In A Silent Way (Audio CD)
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.