|Dickey Betts & Duane Allman|
|John Coltrane & Miles Davis|
The Miles Davis influence on the Allman Brothers is even clearer when you listen to Miles' electric period. Miles was always pushing the boundaries of jazz, and never had they been pushed as far as he did on 1969's In A Silent Way. Adding John McLaughlin's electric guitar alongside Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and Joe Zawinul, the experimental keyboardist who wrote the title track, stirred debate of what jazz could be. "In A Silent Way" opens with McLaughlin picking on Zawinul's melody, which doesn't sound too far removed from Duane Allman's "Little Martha" since both are in open E. The similarities end quickly, since where "In A Silent Way" is full of ethereal air and space, "Little Martha" plucks on sweetly.
The Allman Brothers brought this influence full circle when Derek Trucks, ever the jazznik, began teasing "In A Silent Way" during Allman Brothers' sets around 2006/2007. Eventually the Allman Brothers worked up full versions of not only "In A Silent Way", but "Spanish Key" from Miles' 1970 Bitches Brew as well. Miles' electric material didn't feel out of place in Allman Brothers sets alongside their own jazzy instrumentals like "Kind of Bird" and "Les Brers in A Minor". The word "eclectic" gets thrown around a lot, but The Allman Brothers tastes were as varied as any band out there.
I got ambitious and decided to take a stab at an acoustic version of "In A Silent Way / It's About That Time" after plucking on it on my dobro. It didn't sound wrong, and the slide even echoed the soprano sax and trumpet swells. I didn't want to straight up copy the song, especially the 12 minutes of "It's About That Time" which I condensed into 3 minutes, taking my favorite parts. One of my favorite parts about this project of playing all of the parts is getting to deconstruct a song, really learning how everything fits together. Even if the end product isn't a total success, I learn a lot along the way. The time-keeping is deceptively simple on "It's About That Time", and there is about 12 minutes of what seems like formless, random jamming. But it's not formless at all. It's several skilled players playing off of each, which was not easy to adapt.