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Reviews: Miles Davis: In A Silent Way

Reviews: 10

Review by ravnspore May 22, 2003 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Another classic from Miles.

A demanding listen for some - maybe, with it's ultra long

With 3 keyboardists, 1 guitar player, one saxophonist plus drums
and bass and not forgetting Miles, it is almost a "big" band,
but the playing is - as the title suggests - very slow and intimate.

In surround it is very nice experience with Corea, Zawinul and Hancock
floating around each corner and Miles, Shorter and McLaughlin up front.

Make sure you have a good center-speaker to appreciate the fine work
of Miles and Wayne.
Sonically it will show it's age, but considering that, it is still
worth 4 stars.

The performances though are top notch.

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Review by vonwegen September 11, 2003 (7 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
My first & favorite Miles Davis album, this is great for driving. Too bad Sony or Philips isn't curently developing any SACD surround car systems at the moment.

One note: there are apparently two different versions of this SACD, both with identical 5.1 mixes (which sound great, BTW, especially the 3 keyboards and their sonic positions)--but with different stereo mixes. Most review copies sent to magazines had the re-mixed stereo mix done by Bob Weldon & Mark Wilder when the CD version was issued several months ago.

My copy has the original stereo mix from the vinyl issue--you can hear how the multiple splices Teo Macero & Miles did have deteriorated in sonic quality--one splice in particular, at 10:42 into Shh/Peaceful, is particularly noticeable because the mixdown tape has a big drop-out due to tape crinkle.
Also the closing fadeouts at the end of both sides of vinyl are obviously much cruder and quite abrupt because the faders on the mixing board at Columbia Studios were not nearly as sensitive as the ones in use today--vinyl of course covered that up because most people didn't have the equipment to reveal such sonic 'problems'.

It's actually quite fun to compare the old stereo mix with the 5.1 one--shows how much DSD technology has brought us.

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Review by madisonears September 6, 2004 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Absolute music. These are not bebop or free jazz interpretations of chestnuts. This is original, pure music. There is no theme, definitely no lyrics, and even close to no structure, but the music is universal, almost familiar, arousing yet soothing some primitive recess of one's consciousness. This music gets in your head and puts you in a place that you might not get to without hearing it. That, to me, is the best kind of jazz; indeed, the best kind of music, period. The sound is terrific, with merely a few reminders of its vintage status.

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Review by eesau February 2, 2005 (1 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:

music is superb but why do they make multi-channel mixes like this?
Where does the drummer play? Somewhere on the left hand side but
nowhere special and he changes position when you turn you head ...

Oh boy ... Sony/Columbia should not make multi-channels out of their
old material at all. All Dylan and Miles multi-channel mixes suck.

Avoid them.

The stereo version is very good ... but I've had it already as CD
for nearly two decades ... so this was not a good investment at all.

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Review by DeSelby February 13, 2005 (1 of 3 found this review helpful)
stereo sonics: Davis plugged in. Great!

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Review by JW September 14, 2006 (1 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Two tracks. That's all. This music sounds as if it floats in a three-dimensional space. Miles' trumpet has tremendous bite but never distorts. The electric piano can distort a little on some of the overtones, but not by much. Well layered soundstage. Infectuous rythmns by Tony Williams on drums underpin the whole thing. Yup, the bass is muddy/woolly - as observed above by another reviewer. And it has tape hiss.

Straight ahead jazz fans beware. This is Miles in electronic and improvisational - though not experimental - form. Not angular, no counterpoints, but it is a little free form although it stops well short of free jazz in my opinion. Nicely flowing. And very interesting, especially track 1. Track 2 is monotonous until about 8m.30s into it, then it gets going with Dave Holland laying down some very cool (electronic) bass patterns. But you know, 2 tracks and 38 minutes is enough.


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Review by carledwards August 4, 2008 (2 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
The multi-channel format really serves this music well. The extra detail and spatial separation put you right in the middle of the mix. As to the performances, it's obvious that this is a classic session and for good reason: Miles was breaking new ground at the time. It sounds just as fresh today as it did in the sixties. One of my all-time favorite records and a delight to have it on SACD.

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Review by Ph.D. December 15, 2008 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
This is hypnotic, mystical music that has the power to suspend time and transport you to another dimension. Whereas the old 2 channel versions could only hint at it, the SACD multichannel version actually takes you there. The music is smoother and better defined as one would expect and, frankly, makes a whole lot more sense in it's expanded presentation. Finally you can clearly discern the 3 (count 'em!) individual keyboard players' contributions full of fire and bursting with dynamics (that's Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and Joe Zawinul all vying for attention). John McLaughlin's guitar has bite. Miles' and Shorters' horns are clear and emphatic. This is definitely one of those "albums" whose enjoyment is greatly enhanced by the format.

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Review by Elliotdurand February 4, 2009 (3 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I just started to listen to Jazz so I decided to buy this SA-CD and it's like buying a Rolex for your first watch! This is indeed the icon of jazz. This subtle yet full of charcter classic album really makes you love Jazz. The sound is so clear and rich that you wouldn't believe it was recorded in 1959! the channel mix is done in a way that it feels that you are right in the recording studio you can hear an instument on the left speakers another one on the center speaker and another one on the right speakers. Kind Of Blue it's a must have for music lovers no matter what your genre is. This is a great gift for Valentine's Day. I'm looking forward to buying more miles davis SA-CDs!

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Review by Jijagua May 13, 2011 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Extraordinary - in multi-channel SACD. I'll get to that later.

The stereo sound was very good, with each instrument clearly located from left to right. There was some hiss due to the age of the recording, but it become non-consequential when the music started playing. The sound-stage was very wide. I heard details as well as with any of the best recordings I've heard. Every instrument was easy to individually pick out (you could point to it with your eyes closed). The dynamics and clarity were first rate. Each instrument sounded like it really should.

As for the performance, I am putting it close to "Dark Side of the Moon" (which is my favorite album of all time, in all categories combined). Seeing as I've had "In a Silent Way" for two days, I hope to make it easy to understand how strongly I rate this album. The music is wonderful jazz fusion, but not so electro-guitar heavy as his later stuff. This is truly an intermediate album - between earlier relaxed jazz, and the later psychedelically-laden, guitar heavy stuff. It's definitely a relaxed album that seems to flow very nicely. It's not fast, nor is it slow, but some mellow place in between. My only complaint is that this is a short album. Apparently, these Japanese SACD factories are focusing on the album itself and not adding in any bonus content. However, I think they could have bundled this album with another on this one disk.

Now for the multi-channel SACD. I listened through headphones and the experience was extraordinary. Not only did each of the players occupy a certain space from left-to-right, but there was a thickness to each player. Basically, the players surrounded my skull, with each one taking up a 3D space of its own - I'd say the shape was something like a football in my mind. Also, this mellow album seemed to "flow" - sometimes the flow would go from front to back, then side to side, and sometimes static. There was also less hiss than the stereo version. Even the instruments sounded cleaner in the multi-channel version.

At somewhere around $50 a pop, it seems like I am going to have to get every Miles Davis album in SACD multi-channel (if I can). After listening to this album, it is clear how much I've been missing by simply listening to the stereo versions. I should have learned this with Dark Side of the Moon, but it is ever so evident after listening to "In a Silent Way".

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