Herbie Hancock & John McLaughlin: It's About That Time

The 50th Anniversary concert of Verve Records was celebrated at Carnegie Hall in 1994. It contained many high moments. One of these was a revisiting of Miles Davis's "It's About That Time" from the legendary In A Silent Way album. This performance of the tune is noteworthy because Herbie Hancock and John McLaughlin, who appeared on the original sessions, reprise their roles. Earlier in the evening, at least judging from the DVD order of the concert, the two had played a gentle Bill Evans piece in duet. In a true indication of their broad capabilities the two then turned on a dime to lead a stellar group of well-versed modern players in this fusion rendition. The song is really one movement of a larger piece from In a Silent Way. For this event, the movement was plucked out as a standalone piece. Hancock is now on synthesizer. He and McLaughlin take sharp jabs punctuating the infectious jazz-funk rhythm. Saxophonist Gary Thomas takes a star turn over the ingratiating groove. Herbie, John and the entire band are smiling and laughing as they dig deeper into the gritty underpinning of the composition. (You'll have to see those smiles on the DVD.) Finally, after several minutes of fascinating but purposely directionless motion, the rave-up closing theme is introduced. The band plays it in full unison building tension with each pass until it's about that time to end the thing with a sudden thump.

July 03, 2008 · 0 comments


Miles Davis: In a Silent Way / It's About That Time

Josef Zawinul's composition "In a Silent Way" is a remarkably beautiful piece of music. The initial shock and disdain felt by many Miles Davis fans back in the day has certainly faded away to such a degree that the structure of the piece can now be admired. This is despite whatever musical directions it may have spawned, good or bad. Much of its strange charm is the result of post-recording engineering, as it is full of abrupt edits. Yet however abrupt, these edits are never jarring. Davis and McLaughlin establish the subtle theme and play wonderfully off each other. Don't expect any swing here. The tune is laid-back and spatial in nature. No player takes more than his turn. In fact, Miles is noticeably absent for much of the affair. "It's About That Time," which is dropped in, is more electric and a slow-burn groove before it culminates in a rave-up. The tranquil, almost meditative theme reappears with McLaughlin, Shorter and Davis playing the definition of languid. This is a very important but still overlooked recording milestone.

February 08, 2008 · 0 comments


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