Monday, April 08, 2013

Miles Davis - In a Silent Way (Columbia, 1969)

Sometime it is portrayed that trumpeter Miles Davis began the use of rock rhythms in jazz with his epochal 1970 album Bitches Brew, making it into something of a year-zero musical big bang. Actually, Davis built up to that landmark, gradually introducing guitar on the Miles in the Sky LP, and then electric keyboard shading on Filles de Kilimanjaro. He used both on In A Silent Way, creating a beautiful and almost surreal album. Davis uses a wide ranging cast of musicians: Wayne Shorter on tenor saxophone, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea or Joe Zawinul on keyboards, Dave Holland on bass and Tony Williams on drums. This was a transitional group which was moving from the advanced acoustic jazz sounds of the second great Davis quintet (1965-1968) to the ensemble approach he would use until his sabbatical in 1975. This album consists of two lengthy suites (both of which were one full side long on the original LP.) “Shhh... Peaceful” has a beautiful, melodic feel almost trance-like in the way the textured keyboards ebb and flow with the grain of the music. Davis is completely in his element sounding sublime amidst the patiently woven surroundings. The second suite of the recording is “In a Silent Way/It’s About that Time” develops with slow swirls of sound for several minutes before moving into the “It’s About That Time” section of the suite, where they break out and move into a faster pace, with punchy soloing and louder ensemble play. This is a wonderfully dynamic suite, because after the lengthy medium-up tempo section They are able to downshift back into the “In a Silent Way” theme and take the suite on a quiet and mysterious note. In a Silent Way -

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