Miles Davis – In A Silent Way – Our Shootout Winner from 2016

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

Sit down with this record, draw the blinds, and you’ll hear why AMG gave it 5 Stars. Perhaps it’s the extended solos from John McLaughlin, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock Wayne Shorter, and Davis himself. Perhaps it’s the slippery, spiraling nature of these signature jazz fusion epic pieces. Perhaps it’s the grooves that Tony Williams and Dave Holland spin, slowly at first, building later in each of the LP’s mesmerizing tracks.

This is one of the most important jazz-fusion records of all time and it sounds AMAZING on this pressing. Hearing music this important on a killer pressing is a treat to say the least! You can turn this one up good and loud and really immerse yourself in the sound.

We could talk about this music all day, but if you’re in the market for a Super Hot Stamper pressing I’m guessing it’s safe to assume you already know how good this album is. It’s worth mentioning how much more we appreciate this music after hearing it on Hot Stamper copies. If you’re stuck with a weak pressing, you’re missing a lot of magic. When you get a copy with real transparency and clarity there are numerous small details and subtle textures revealed in the mix that basically don’t exist on the standard LP. A copy like this lets you hear it all.

Superb transparency, amazing presence and immediacy, complete freedom from any kind of phony, hyped-up sound — you’re not going to find one like this lying around in the bins, that’s for sure. This album never comes cheap, is very rarely clean, and you need a pretty good sized stack to have a realistic chance on finding one with sound like this. If you’re up for the challenge, more power to you, but it’s probably a lot easier to let us tackle the hard work of unearthing the truly magical copies that are still to be found like this one.

Jazz Giants

Bass – Dave Holland 
Drums – Tony Williams
Electric Piano – Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock 
Guitar – John McLaughlin 
Organ, Electric Piano – Josef Zawinul
Producer – Teo Macero 
Tenor Saxophone – Wayne Shorter 
Trumpet – Miles Davis 

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Shhh / Peaceful

Side Two

In a Silent Way / It’s About That Time

AMG Review

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. But even these don’t begin until almost ten minutes into the piece. It’s Miles and McLaughlin, sparely breathing and wending their way through a series of seemingly disconnected phrases until the groove monster kicks in. The solos are extended, digging deep into the heart of the ethereal groove, which was dark, smoky, and ashen. McLaughlin and Hancock are particularly brilliant, but Corea’s solo on the Fender Rhodes is one of his most articulate and spiraling on the instrument ever. The A-side of the album, “Shhh/Peaceful,” is even more so. With Tony Williams shimmering away on the cymbals in double time, Miles comes out slippery and slowly, playing over the top of the vamp, playing ostinato and moving off into more mysterious territory a moment at a time. With Zawinul’s organ in the background offering the occasional swell of darkness and dimension, Miles could continue indefinitely. But McLaughlin is hovering, easing in, moving up against the organ and the trills by Hancock and Corea; Wayne Shorter hesitantly winds in and out of the mix on his soprano, filling space until it’s his turn to solo. But John McLaughlin, playing solos and fills throughout (the piece is like one long dreamy solo for the guitarist), is what gives it its open quality, like a piece of music with no borders as he turns in and through the commingling keyboards as Holland paces everything along. When the first round of solos ends, Zawinul and McLaughlin and Williams usher it back in with painterly decoration and illumination from Corea and Hancock. Miles picks up on another riff created by Corea and slips in to bring back the ostinato “theme” of the work. He plays glissando right near the very end, which is the only place where the band swells and the tune moves above a whisper before Zawinul’s organ fades it into silence. This disc holds up, and perhaps is even stronger because of the issue of the complete sessions. It is, along with Jack Johnson and Bitches Brew, a signature Miles Davis session from the electric era.