In a Silent Way
The Best of Miles Davis
First Appeared at The Music Box, January 2003, Volume 10, #1
Written by John Metzger
Throughout his ever-evolving career, Miles Davis made many classic albums, including Sketches of Spain, Kind of Blue, Bitches Brew, and Nefertiti. But none of his recordings was quite as beautiful as his first full-fledged jazz fusion project In a Silent Way. Indeed, Davis couldn’t have chosen a better title for the suite of songs that filled two of the most gorgeous album sides ever recorded. His embrace of gentle, quiet, and peaceful space forms a comforting lullaby for the soul.
Yet, it wasn’t entirely Davis and his band that concocted such a stunning masterpiece. True, his musicianship was top-notch, as was his selection of musical collaborators, which included saxophonist Wayne Shorter, bassist Dave Holland, guitarist John McLaughlin, percussionist Tony Williams, and the triple keyboard attack of Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, and Joe Zawinul. But the original recordings sessions — which are replicated on The Complete Silent Way Sessions (a remarkable glimpse at the creative process) — lack the cohesive delicacy of the final document. To sort things out, Davis turned to producer Teo Macero, who took the fragments and masterfully pieced together the perfect album — one of the finest ever recorded, regardless of genre.
From the opening organ chord and the ensuing rhythmic swirl of Shhh/Peaceful to the closing tenderness of the title track, Davis and his band enter the secret space of dreams, lighting the darkness of night with vibrant, dancing visions of heaven. In a Silent Way marked the beginning of a new era in jazz, though no one who followed ever found quite the blissful splendor of Davis and his crew. For that, one must turn to the rock world, where twenty years later the Grateful Dead employed MIDI technology to turn its Space segments — particularly those that led into Brent Mydland’s I Will Take You Home — into similarly gorgeous extravaganzas.
For those with only the most passing interest in Davis’ career, one need look no further than the recently released compilation The Best of Miles Davis. For the record, this collection attempts to do the impossible, and given that Davis recorded numerous classic albums, a single disc, greatest hits set seems somewhat silly. Nevertheless, the aggregation of music — which selects songs recorded for Columbia Records between 1957 and 1984 — offers a nifty introductory, if somewhat fleeting, look at one of the most gifted musicians, composers, and band leaders the world has ever known. Be warned, however, one listen to The Best of Miles Davis, and you’ll surely be picking up all of the albums from which its tracks are compiled.
In a Silent Way —
The Best of Miles Davis — ½
Of Further Interest...
In a Silent Way is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!
The Best of Miles Davis is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2002 The Music Box