Tuesday, September 11, 2007

In a Silent Way

I heard about the passing of jazz/fusion pianist/composer Joe Zawinul yesterday. I wasn't a huge fan of his music. I never really got into Weather Report, though to be honest, I haven't listened to very much of their catalog. I found myself on the road last night and the radio happened to be tuned to WGBH. It was their evening jazz show, which I usually don't listen to, but they were playing In a Silent Way in memory of Zawinul so I kept listening. I had forgotten that Zawinul played the organ on In a Silent Way. As it turns out, he also composed the tune. I've listened to it plenty of times, but I had never been able to really get into it. I have always been disappointed by Miles Davis' electric and fusion work. Not because it's bad or because I'm some kind of jazz purist, but because it never really lives up to its potential. His electric tunes all show these brief flashes of brilliance, but they never manage to sustain it for an entire tune. Anyway, something happened last night, because for the first time, I just 'got' In a Silent Way. I was just overwhelmed by the beauty of the piece. I've always felt that In a Silent Way stands apart from the rest of the electric Miles songbook because of it's ethereal and ambient undertones. This sound is largely absent from the rock and funk infused music that followed In a Silent Way.

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