The late 1960s was an odd musical era. For example, The Beatles had transitioned from early on in the decade from four young guys in suits, to artistic and explorational musicians. Although they are merely an example, the rest of the music world decided to become more broadly artistic and individual as a result.
Miles Davis was no exception. The Jazz music that he had pioneered over his lifetime had to be refined. That sort of mindset resulted in a lot of equally great material to the Jazz he had pioneered earlier on in his career. In A Silent Way is different. Let’s just see how different (and good or bad) this recording is.
Shhh / Peaceful kicks off with an organ, before leading straight into a laidback and quirky sounding Jazz based piece. This is 18 minutes long, so be patient with it. The organs, guitar and other instrumentation mesh together wonderfully. Miles Davis was untouchable here. Some random melodies and musical fragments make this an interesting listen. It then cuts out everything but the organ quickly, before the rest of the band resume. Miles Davis comes in with his trumpet, signaling that this is good music to play very quietly, around about midnight. This definitely has a sort of care and attention to public mood that Miles Davis himself was listening carefully to different acts of the time. It is different, for sure. Some extra instrumentation heads on in, and the whole thing sounds unusual, but good. The trumpet melody here is top, nobody could beat Miles Davis in pioneering the wider Jazz music scene. The keyboard here is particularly interesting, which has a semi-electric piano part about it. The whole thing goes quiet some way in, and everything is rather muted, although all the instruments are still ongoing. Before long, a keyboard and guitar alone make a great melodic statement, before the hi-hats come rushing back in. It is quite a nice listening experience, and very subtle in approach. The electric guitar playing here is intricate, and very awesome. The whole thing is a great cut, and it just goes to show what some musical effort can do. A double bass riff comes through the middle of this song, proving you don’t need to electrify bass to get it sounding good. This musical composition is brilliantly thought out. A saxophone solo then comes in, and no doubt many will consider this an amazing recording so far. Very 1960s, and out there. The saxophone continues as the main melody here, before everything goes a little hushed again. There is some virtuoso playing from the guitar here, sounding very accurate and amazing. It is a beautiful Fender Stratocaster like tone. After some time, the song starts almost over again, and the band continues their awesome music performance. For those of you who wish to test you 5+ minute listening zone, this is no doubt a great place to begin. The alternating sections continue, and Miles returns on his trumpet. The whole piece is a very intelligent and emotional listen. A very interesting trip from 1969, Miles Davis has nailed this 100%. Sure, it is a lengthy piece, but does it matter? The music here is amazing. It is a top and refreshing listen. Miles Davis’s trumpet playing gets very loud towards the end, mind you, he is the star of the show. There is a subtle reduction process in volume towards the end. All in all, a fantastic listen to this day.
In A Silent Way / It’s About That Time is the second half of the album, beginning with gurgling organ and fragmented electric guitar parts. A nice and gentle listen is here, and some of the harmonic frequencies here are wonderful. It is a slow burner, but a good one at that. A decent listening experience and without any drums or percussion. It’s just relaxing, which is likely the intention here. The wind section piece here is soft, gentle and reassuring. Miles eventually comes through with his trumpet, doing wonderfully as the whole track becomes somewhat louder. A nice and soothing listen, it goes quiet for a moment, before the band kick in with a surprise change in the music at hand. The trumpet blasts loudly here, and it seems that virtually every instrument has a near solo moment about it. The keyboard plays on, with double bass playing and more Fender style guitar sounds. This is definitely out there and different to a lot of music ever made. Still it is a top listen. The different instruments all have a good part to play here, impressing many who are Rock fans, Jazz fans and all in between and otherwise. The guitar playing here is really top in particular, Miles Davis must have had a great instinct for picking the best musicians. A bass and keyboard riff join in together during the electric guitar solos, which is definitely different. It then goes noticeably quiet, with bass and keyboard ongoing, before a saxophone solo re-enters the scene. This is quite beautiful, and sounds very skillful. The bass/keyboard riff return during the saxophone solo. It’s up to you to listen intently the saxophone or groove out to the riffs being played. After some time, the piece goes quiet again for Miles Davis to begin his trumpet part. He definitely sounds wonderful here, and shows that he is a great musician indeed. The keyboard/double bass persist throughout this piece, and Miles plays perfectly throughout. Eventually, drums enter this piece as it gathers momentum, with some excellent drum fills. This is Miles Davis in the swinging sixties, ladies and gents. The trumpet loudly continues whilst the rest of the band make space for Miles to shine. The riff is now being played by most of the band whilst the trumpet playing continues. Eventually, the riff itself is played alone. A return to the theme at the start of the track emerges, and is just top notch. Some semi-Psychedelic/Progressive instrumentation is here, and this is really excellent listening. The guitar playing in particular is a standout, and we have an unique and top listening experience. Miles Davis returns with his trumpet, doing marvelously well. As we conclude this listen, we have heard a very underrated classic album here.
This is a top and excellent listen, just perfect for the background sound or if you cannot sleep at night. Miles Davis was truly a pioneer. This is definitely one of his greatest moments. Check this album out, especially some re-releases with some extra gems on them.
Silence is golden.