Listening to Miles Davis' originally released version of In a Silent Way in light of the complete sessions released by Sony in 2001 (Columbia Legacy 65362) reveals just how strategic and dramatic a studio construction it was. If one listens to Joe Zawinul's original version of "In a Silent Way," it comes across as almost a folk song with a very pronounced melody. The version Miles Davis and Teo Macero assembled from the recording session in July of 1968 is anything but. There is no melody, not even a melodic frame. There are only vamps and solos, grooves layered on top of other grooves spiraling toward space but ending in silence.
Though BITCHES BREW has attained iconic status as one of the most important, progressive statements … Full Descriptionin post-bop jazz history, it's predecessor IN A SILENT WAY–though less widely acknowledged–was perhaps even more revolutionary for its dissolution of the songform-oriented cool jazz approach and introduction of electric instruments. This three-disc set, featuring all the material laid down in those vaunted 1969 sessions, is a revelatory sonic document that further illuminates the maverick genius of Miles Davis. In addition to the original SILENT WAY tracks as we know them, there are previously unheard compositions and alternate versions that shed new light on Miles's process. "The Ghetto Walk," for example, which was never released before in any form is a slow-burner that features some of new arrival John McLaughlin's most expansive, questing guitar work (partially due to Miles's penchant for springing new, unrehearsed material on his musicians). The shifting, kaleidoscopic keyboard work of Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, and Joe Zawinul (what a trio!), gives another undiscovered gem "Early Minor" a haunting, ethereal feel. Additionally, the full, unedited versions of tunes included on the original album give an idea of producer Teo Macero's groundbreaking cut-and-paste editing process. For anyone interested in the evolution of modern jazz, THE COMPLETE IN A SILENT WAY SESSIONS is an essential item.
Could there be any more confrontational sound in Miles Davis' vast catalog than the distorted guitars and tinny double-timing drums reacting to a two-note bass riff funking it up on the first track from On the Corner? Before the trumpet even enters the picture, the story has been broken off somewhere in the middle, with deep street music melding with a secret language held within the band and those who can actually hear this music – certainly not the majority of Miles' fan base built up over the past 25 years.
With IN A SILENT WAY, the elements of popular music, blues and electronics that had been implicit in Miles Davis' previous recordings now came center stage, and the trumpeter never looked back again. IN A SILENT WAY is Miles' BIRTH OF THE COOL/MILES AHEAD/KIND OF BLUE for the rock generation. Gone are the rhythmic and harmonic trappings of bebop. In their place, Miles conjures a hypnotic, subliminal dance pulse and an airy, celestial drone of electric keyboards. Miles fell in love with the bell tones and flute-like textures of Fender/Rhodes electric pianos, and in the hands of Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and Joe Zawinul (who doubles on organ), they create layer upon layer of choral texture, in great reverberant washes of color and counterpoint.
In a Silent Way is a studio album by American jazz musician Miles Davis, released July 30, 1969 on Columbia Records. Produced by Teo Macero, the album was recorded in one session date on February 18, 1969 at CBS 30th Street Studio B in New York City. Incorporating elements of classical sonata form, Macero edited and arranged Davis's recordings from the session to produce the album. Marking the beginning of his "electric" period, In a Silent Way has been regarded by music writers as Davis's first fusion recording, following a stylistic shift toward the genre in his previous records and live performances.
Miles Davis's famous mid-1960s quintet, featuring saxophonist Wayne Shorter and pianist Herbie Hancock, was intact until just a few weeks before his new, electric ensemble recorded "In a Silent Way". Legendary as a kind of line in the sand challenging jazz fans during the ascendance of electric, psychedelic rock, "In a Silent Way" hinted at the repetitive polyrhythms Davis would employ throughout the early 1970s. It also partook generously of electric piano and bass and rekindled the tonal palette that Davis had explored famously with Kind of Blue. But "In a Silent Way" remains a clearly electric jazz record, part ambient color exploration, part rock-inflected energy and vibe, and part outright maverick creativity. Davis takes many long, breathy solos, and they glisten in a burnished blue against his new group's strange admixture of musical moods.