Friday, November 10, 2006

146. Miles Davis - In A Silent Way (1969)

Track Listing

1. Shhh/Peaceful
2. In A Silent Way/It's About That Time


Miles comes around with the best of the soft jazz albums ever made... in fact one of the first ones. It is a great moody jazz album, but it has unfortunately spawned many porn soundtracks in poor attempts to be as cool and soft as this.

I found this to be a pretty interesting album and it made me think a lot about Brian Eno, who would in the 70's reinvent ambient music, or as Erik Satie liked to call it, wallpaper music. Miles has that going here, but instead of creating an independent musical style, like Brian Eno in Discreet Music and Music For Airports, Miles is firmly in the Jazz universe.

The music is so soft and silent that it can be easily ignored, but that doesn't mean that careful listening is not rewarded, in fact attentive listening makes you try to understand how such discordant music can be so "harmonious" and pleasant. Yet, it can. Of course this isn't something you want to listen to constantly, but it is pretty impressive stuff nonetheless. Stream it from Napster or buy it from Amazon UK or US.

Track Highlights

A bit pointless really

Final Grade



Well here's Miles playing part of it with some of his original band members, with all the excesses of his 1990's phase :

From wikipedia:

Although previous Davis records and live performances had already begun the shift to fusion, In a Silent Way featured a full-blown electric approach. For this and other reasons, it is usually regarded as the first of his jazz fusion recordings. It is also the first recording by Davis that was largely constructed by the editing and arrangement of producer Teo Macero. Macero's editing techniques are said to have incorporated many elements of classical sonata form in Davis' recordings for In a Silent Way. Both of the extended tracks on the album consist of three distinct parts that could be thought of as an exposition, development and recapitulation. The last six minutes of the first track are actually the first six minutes of the same track repeated in exactly same form. With this "trick" the track got a more understandable structure.

The album featured virtuoso guitarist and newcomer John McLaughlin, who had one month prior to the February 18th In a Silent Way session recorded his classic debut album Extrapolation. At the request of Tony Williams, McLaughlin in early February moved from England to the US to play with The Tony Williams Lifetime. Williams brought McLaughlin to Davis' house the night before the scheduled session for In a Silent Way. Davis had not heard the guitarist before, but was so impressed that he told him to show up at the studio the next day. McLaughlin would go on to great fame in the 1970s as leader of the Mahavishnu Orchestra.

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