Personnel: Miles Davis (trumpet); Wayne Shorter (soprano saxophone);
Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock (electric piano); Joe Zawinul (organ);
John McLaughlin (electric guitar); Dave Holland (bass); Tony Williams (drums).
Recorded at Columbia Studios, New York, New York on February 18, 1969. Includes liner notes by Frank Glenn, John Ephland.
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.
The juxtaposition of groove and impressionistic drone movements creates the inner tension in each of the extended pieces--Miles' "Shhh/Peaceful" and Zawinul's "In A Silent Way/It's About Time." Newcomer John McLaughlin's lyric, sitar-like guitar sets a serene mood on "Shhh," as bassist Dave Holland and drummer Williams essay a pulsating vamp. Miles' open horn is nuanced and graceful, combining long notes and cracked speech-like tones into one of his classic melodic statements, followed by McLaughlin's dancing figures and Wayne Shorter's chanting soprano. The title tune is a dark, dreamy, aquatic tone poem that breaks into an irresistable blues vamp. IN A SILENT WAY is one of Miles most sublimely beautiful, enduring creations.
Rolling Stone (4/11/02, p.107) - Ranked #29 in Rolling Stone's "50 Coolest Records" - "...This gave birth to yet another new sound: electronic, lush, melancholy, full of otherworldly beauty..."
Q (7/99, p.150) - Included in Q's Best Chill-Out Albums of All Time - "...a whole album that sounds like an endless introduction....an almost subliminal funk pulse: drummer Tony Williams doesn't even touch his snare until midway through side two."
Uncut (11/02, p.139) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...Cool, quiet and gently insistent."