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on September 23, 2000
I am not ashamed to say this- "In a Silent Way" has always been my favorite Miles Davis cd, bar none. For me, it has never been an issue. No other lp of his comes close.
I've never been able to completely pin down why that is, but it all starts with the MOOD. There is such a relaxed, ethereal feel to this lp that none of his others has. The mixing and mastering was brilliantly done on this lp. The lp is almost an ambient (as Brian Eno would describe ambient- soft, background music) experience at points, and the deliberate softer mixing of this lp causes that to happen. It creates a relaxed, almost stoned feel to the lp (which could also be part of the mood of the lp- I'm sure many of the players were dope smokers).
"In a Silent Way/It's About That Time" is for me the most beautiful piece of music Miles ever played. An early example of ambient music, the keyboards of Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock form the pattern. Tony Williams plays very simple drums, and John McLaughlin adds liquid guitar solos that neither dominate, or fall under,the mix. The result is several minutes of pure trance before the soloists- Shorter,then Miles, add to the spacial textures laid out. As would be more common in Miles' 70's works, the buildup to orgasmic climax is astounding, as Miles goes off on his tangent while Williams, Corea, and bassist Dave Holland go for the ride..then, as quickly as it starts, it ends, and the theme that opened the track re-enters and closes it. Breathtaking.
"Shhh/Peaceful" foreshadows the 70's funk fusion jazz that Corea, Hancock, and Shorter would all experiment with in their respective fusion groups. Great bass by Holland and suprelative drumming by Williams sets up the foundation for the groove, which allows Miles, Shorter, Hancock, and McLaughlin to experiment with tempos, forms of playing, and moods. The results are astounding. And, as with "in a Silent way," the opening theme is again repeated for emphasis and for a trance like feel.
The group theme is becoming prevalent in Miles' muisc by this time, and its those grooves created by the rhythn section that carries this lp and allows Miles and Shorter to weave their magic. Without question on of the greatest lps ever made, "In a Silent Way" is new and fresh yet still very familiar and safe, as well.
The gem of all gems.
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on July 6, 1999
This is an album of haunting and ethereal beauty - rich, layered, intricate aural landscapes that cast a deep spell no matter how many times you listen. As another reviewer here said, nothing else is quite like this. And like all true great works of art, it's not easy to describe. Sure there are elements of other music - trippy jamming; ambient trance; funky fusion; traditional improvisational jazz - but the brilliant and soulful solos by John McLaughlin, Wayne Shorter, and of course Miles combine with the grooves laid down by Dave Holland and Tony Williams to make music that transcends categories.
There is only one type of sound I can think of that comes close to this album. It's the sound you encounter sometimes when you're hiking through the woods, away from civilization and human noise, when your ear is suddenly caught by the interplay of the wind through the trees, animals rustling in the grass, flies buzzing, birds chirping, even your own breathing and footsteps, and everything sounds perfect, like a symphony conducted by some unseen presence. "In a Silent Way" captures that magic and freedom and freshness. It's a gift to the world that any true fan of music - any and all kinds of music - should own.
Enough words. Buy this, close your eyes, open your ears and your mind, and listen. Just listen . . . . .
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on October 8, 2004
This isn't the "first fusion album". This wasn't Miles Davis's first recording with electric keyboards or, for that matter, the electric guitar. He'd been experimenting with rock, soul and pop rhythms for over a year. And yet In a Silent Way really is a first. It's the first Davis album in a new, undefined style -- informed heavily by jazz, but already heading somewhere else.

It's also the last Tony Williams appearance on a Davis album. Supposedly Williams, who was starting Lifetime with organist Larry Young and guitarist John McLaughlin, was angry and paranoid at the thought of Miles poaching his star guitarist. So for most of the CD, he plays a very repetitive rhythm -- hi hat on the first half, snare on the second - except for one brief moment, which I'll get back to shortly.

McLaughlin isn't the firebrand of the Mahavishnu Orchestra or Jack Johnson; his playing is very circumspect and cautious, blending in very well with the triple-keyboard stew of Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Joe Zawinul. Dave Holland grooves along with those funky basslines he's so good at producing. It's a testament to these great musicians that they constantly manage to keep things interesting in a fairly repetitive setting and never get in each other's way. Aside from a few collective improvisations by the rhythm section, the only soloists on this CD are Miles, Wayne Shorter (playing lovely, snaking lines on the soprano), and John McLaughlin.

The music, like many of the recordings Miles would make over the next six years, consists of lengthy medleys over funky vamps. In each, the first five minutes are repeated via splicing at the end. That kind of repetition would be irritating in other contexts, but here it's extremely effective. "Shhh/Peaceful" is one of those pieces doesn't really go anywhere but offering a fun ride as it motors along; it can work as background, and yet teems with detail for the attentive listener. "In a Silent Way", Miles's striking interpretation of Zawinul's tune, is one of the most striking pieces of music in jazz history; first John McLaughlin tentatively stating the theme, next Wayne coming in on soprano, and finally Miles stepping in. Beautiful. Then the lightly funky groove of "It's About That Time" comes in. It slowly rises in intensity during John and Wayne's solo turns, setting up Miles for some of the best (and seemingly effortless) playing of his career. He paces the notes perfectly, and then when Tony Williams finally cuts loose... well, if you've heard it, you know it's one of the most exhilirating things ever set to tape. The repeat of the title track brings the album to a perfect close -- a return to motionless silence.

A lot of people associate Miles's electric music with lengthy, amelodic jams. And while some of it really is like that, those wary of albums like Bitches Brew and Pangaea might still like the subtle, melodic beauty of In a Silent Way. In fact, I think that this album contains the seeds to unlocking the mystery of those wonderful but difficult recordings. Try it out -- I think you'll like it.
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on September 19, 2008
Most musicians go their entire careers without ever coming up with one truly original idea.

Miles Davis was the opposite, a man who never allowed himself, or his music, to get too comfortable, to get stagnant.

Sometimes the new directions he went were exciting and enjoyable to listen to, sometimes they weren't but he always pushed the envelope.

This beautiful album stands as one of the great triumphs of his life.

This is music that is as complex as any that he ever created but still is accessible and pleasing to the ear. As a result, it is music that you can listen to in any situation and enjoy.

It rewards close listening, repeated listenings yet still can function as very enjoyable background music for reading, drawing, studying etc.

The first thing you will notice about this album is the very pleasing sound of the rhythm sections comprised of Three Keyboardists, Guitar and Tony Williams fine cymbal work.

These new sounds, unlike any other in jazz up to that point, creates a dreamy, surreal soundscape which draws you in and over which the soloists can create their beautiful statements.

The two tracks both do a great job of building tension and mood. My favorite part of the album is during the track It's About That Time in which a two bar bass line groove is used to build energy throughout the guitar and soprano sax solos until Miles solo where the drummer Tony Williams goes completely nuts for a few measures. After the chill out groove of the prior music it really is a satisfying and beautiful moment.

This music is some of the most treasured I own.

I've listened to it sober, I've listened to it stoned. I've listened to it in headphones (often!) and on high end sound systems. I've listened to it laying in bed at night or reading the newspaper during the day.

Whatever the situation , it always puts me where I need to be.
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on September 17, 2008
Miles Davis-In A Silent Way *****

Released in 1969, In A Silent Way was Miles' first real fusion jazz album. Yet another way in which he would change the world of jazz and music for I think it was the fifth time. Where Miles in the Sky, and Filles de Kilimanjaro his two previous albums hinted toward where he was going with In A Silent Way, this took it to a whole different level. A truly electric jazz album, In A Silent Way introduced the world to one of the great guitar players, John McLaughlin. But more than that it introduced us to the three electric keyboard team of Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and Joe Zawinul. All three of which were to become three of the most influential keyboardist/composers to emerge from the time.

The trio co-wrote the stunning title track, 'In A Silent Way' which consists of two parts interrupted by 'Its About That Time' which only adds to the brilliance of the piece. It is a just under twenty minute piece of jazz bliss. Miles wails through out, but does so subtly. Wayne Shorter and Dave Holland take the album to new heights through their work on the title cut. Hollands bass is some of better playing heard through out the album while Shorters Soprano Saxophone work is nothing to bark at. Mclaughlin's beautiful guitar work closes the album and does so chillingly.

'Shhh/Peaceful' which is a stunning eighteen minute opener, and while not as memorable as the title cut, or as famous it is still one of Davis' strongest pieces.

In A Silent Way is one of fusion jazz, and Miles Davis' finest hours. A truly original set of work that could find a pleasant home in any collection of jazz. Highly recommended.
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on May 21, 2008
(I'm dating myself but) I remember clearly the day I first heard this music, playing in the Papyrus bookstore on Broadway between 114th and 115th St. (?). About 11:00 in the morning. The album had just been released. I recognized it and came to love it immediately....music so unlike anything else I had heard and so directly connected to the pure idea of 'Beauty'.

The bookstore is long gone. I've heard this album a hundred times since, and there is no point in pretending the fresh, wonderful shock of discovery hasn't disappeared. But it is still undeniably beautiful. And listening now it is amazing to recognizing how many hundreds of records made since have referenced it.

Anyone who hasn't heard this is missing out.

(god bless miles)
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on March 1, 2006
Miles Davis historians look at this album and at "Bitches Brew" which followed, and talk of how important these recordings were to Miles' career as a turning point. This album is the first of Miles' "electric period," a highly controversial segment of his career that produced some highly influential, profound music of arguable accessibility. But what makes this album so incredible is not just how it was a beginning for Miles in fusion; it was the equivalent of the Second Continental Congress for the new genre that would dominate the jazz scene in the 1970s. One only has to look at the personnel and think for a bit: in addition to Miles, the group consisted of Wayne Shorter on saxophone, John McLaughlin on guitar, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and Joe Zawinul on keyboards, Dave Holland on bass, and Tony Williams on drums. This is not just a list of the absolute top tier of young musicians of the time; it is literally the core group of EVERYTHING significant that happened in fusion. Every one of these men with the exception of Dave Holland went on to start a fusion group: Shorter and Zawinul began Weather Report, Hancock started Mwandishi and later the Headhunters, Corea led Return to Forever, McLaughlin started the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Tony Williams led Lifetime. Without exception, these groups were the defining forces of fusion (arguably the only ones that truly succeeded). That's what makes this album so incredible in historical context; anyone who would leave a mark on fusion was here, and anyone who wasn't here...wouldn't. That's what makes this more than an interesting experiment. It was the planting of a seed that altered the course of the careers of each musician here.

As for the music itself, the description has been more or less covered by the myriad of reviews already here. Suffice it to say that it is one of the rare musical documents that can be appreciated on ALL musical levels: there is enough interest in the soloists and group interaction to give it true depth and replay value, it's funky (though not overtly), it's brilliant mood music (as much as I hate that term), and it's even quiet enough to be shoved into the background (though why would you want to?). My favorite moment is when Tony Williams finally ramps up the groove about 13 minutes into the second track and pushes Miles to the next level of intensity.

Get this album to hear the music which sent forth the new wave of true innovators, arguably jazz's last (at least for now).
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on February 19, 2008
Miles, Corea, Hancock, Zawinul, Shorter, McLaughlin, Holland, Williams.
This is one of the greatest fusion line ups of all time. With this album Miles Davis turned jazz on to a brilliant road of modern sound and talent. SHHH/Peaceful starts out the album with beautiful melodies and the classic dissonant Davis stabs that were really brought out on this and Bitch's Brew. For having three keys going on at basically the same time, Corea, Hancock, and Zawinul work amazingly well and create pure magic and harmony. This album jumpstarted an entire way of composing, thinking, and playing jazz that ultimately shaped music today in more ways than we will ever know. Miles Davis will remain as being one of the most creative and cutting edge jazz virtuosos of all time.
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on June 27, 2008
THIS 1969 RECORDING FROM MILES DAVIS WAS THE FIRST "TRUE" ALL FUSION MUSIC ALBUM EVERMADE, FEATURING A WHO'S WHO OF THE ARTISTS THAT WENT ON TO DEFINE AND INVENT THAT GENRE; JOE ZAWINUL, JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, CHICK COREA, HERBIE HANCOCK, TONY WILLIAMS, AND OTHER LUMINARIES. THIS IS A BREAKTHROUGH RECORDING, MADE A YEAR EARLIER THAN THE MUCH MORE HERALDED BITCHES' BREW REOCRDINGS. DEFINING MOMENT IN JAZZ MUSIC, WHEN IT CORSSED THE BRIDGE TO INCORPORATE ALL THE ELEMENTS OF JAZZ, ROCK, POLYRHYTHMS, AND WORLD MUSIC. TWO TRACKS, EACH ABOUT TWENTY MINUTES LONG, THIRTY EIGHT MINUTES ALTOGETHER OF BRILLIANCE.
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on April 4, 2008
This album is simply incredible! Just take a look at the all-star list of names: Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Joe Zawinul, Dave Holland, and Tony Williams; a who's-who of the jazz fusion movement. There are only two tracks on this album, but they both weigh in at nearly 20 minutes each. The musicianship on this album is unbelievable, with tons of subtlety that will bring you back again and again.

This album is a great way to relax after a stressful day at work, and is a must-own for any jazz fusion fan!
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