Magazine article Guitar Player

John McLaughlin: Reflects on "In a Silent Way"

Magazine article Guitar Player

John McLaughlin: Reflects on "In a Silent Way"

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

"TWO THOUSAND NINE IS A VERY significant year for me for several reasons," enthuses John McLaughlin. "It was in January 1969 that I found myself in the CBS studio in New York City with my perennial hero Miles Davis, just two days after arriving in the U.S. for the first time, having come from London to play with Tony Williams and Larry Young in Tony's new group, Lifetime. In the studio with Miles were Chick Corea, Joe Zawinul, Wayne Shorter, Dave Holland, and, of course, Tony. That session had ramifications that are still active today."

The band had been working on Zawinul's composition "In a Silent Way," but Davis wasn't happy with the way they were playing it, so he looked to the neophyte guitarist. "The recording of 'In a Silent Way' was kind of nerve wracking for me since the last thing I expected was to be in the studio with Miles," says McLaughlin. "I sweated a lot, but in the end, the actual direction of the recording of the tune was left to me by Miles himself. He asked me to play it alone on the guitar, and I basically threw out all the harmony and played it in E major. The recording light was already on and the tune just went its own way from the start. Afterward, I was not only surprised that Miles really liked what I had done, I was astonished that he had been able to pull something out of me that I would never have imagined."

The session was also the start of McLaughlin's lifelong friendship with Corea. …

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