Wayne Shorter: Which Albums?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Lee Scoggins, Jan 3, 2003.

  1. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    I was flipping through the latest Jazziz magazine and it had the critics awards for 2002...Wayne Shorter was mentioned prominently as his comeback enjoyed a big success. They mentioned Footprints Live! as one of the big albums of the year.

    Does anyone have this? What do you think?

    What other classic albums should I pick up for my jazz collection?
     
  2. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Miles Davis: Miles Smiles.
    Weather Report: Heavy Weather.

    Both available on SACD I believe.
     
  3. Robert A. Willis Jr.

    Robert A. Willis Jr. Second Unit

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    His most accessible work is when he played with Miles and Weather Report. I haven't heard his latest album yet. I would advise you to listen before buying. Some of his efforts are rather dense and may not suit your tastes.

    Serious musician.
     
  4. Steven Hen

    Steven Hen Stunt Coordinator

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    Wayne's RVG editions are must haves for me.

    JuJu
    Speak No Evil
    The all Seeing Eye
     
  5. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    As good as Footprints is, it's actually not his best (IMO). It serves as a welcome return to bop-based jazz.
    The thing to remember about Shorter is that he is as much a composer as he is a sax player, so you should be ready to open yourself to some new and interesting songwriting. Some his far-out, some is progressive, and some delightfully traditional. All of the stuff I have stays pretty close to bop jazz, but it is quite unique.
    Like Mingus and Ellington, Shorter is the jazz equivalent of an "auteur"- he can do it all. Unfortunately, he just hasn't asserted his own musical personality as strongly as those two.
    The other albums I have (all from Blue Note):
    Night Dreamer
    Lineup: Lee Morgan, Elvin Jones, Reggie Workman, McCoy Tyner
    Because of his musical partnerships with Miles and Art Blakey and his association with Blue Note, his albums are full of the best musicians.
    All the tracks on this album are original, except one which is an arrangement of a traditional "Oriental folk song."
    The highlight is Virgo, which is a gorgeous ballad.
    The only CD available, last time I checked (and bought) was the original release. It includes and alternate of Virgo.
    Juju
    Lineup: same as Night Dreamer exept no Lee Morgan
    This is probably my favorite one, as it strikes the perfect balance between 60s hard bop and Shorter's unique compositional voice. All the songs are originals.
    Highlights: title track, House of Jade
    Best CD version: Rudy Van Gelder remastered edition, with two alternate takes
    Speak No Evil
    lineup: Freddie Hubbard, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Elvin Jones
    My first Shorter album and a still a favorite, tied with Juju. After solidifying his compositional skills (these albums were made before and right as he started his stint with Miles), the return of a trumpet player fills the sound out nicely.
    Also had an RVG version on CD with one alternate take.
    The Soothsayer
    lineup: James Spaulding (alto sax), Freddie Hubbard, McCoy Tyner, Ron Carter, Tony Williams.
    Odd to hear another sax player, but the music remains consistently great and unique. The last track is Valse Triste by one of my favorite composers, Jean Sibelius, so it's a special treat for me. The rest are originals.
    Unfortunatley, no remasters of this album on CD. One alternate take.
    The All Seeing Eye
    This is the weirdest one I have. Some of it approaches free jazz, so it's not for everybody. However, while most free jazz involves layers of dense, difficult sound, this music is full of space (perhaps sometimes too much space?). It's a difficult one to listen to and while I like much of it, there is some I don't really "get." I will admit to not fully comprehending some of what free jazz and avant-garde are all about.
    Therefore, this is the only Shorter album I have that I hesitate to recommend. Get the other first, at least.
    RVG remastered version on CD.
    So, after all that, I would say start with Speak No Evil and Juju, then dig into the others.
    Of course, you should also check out his playing with Miles, Weather Report, and Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.
     
  6. PaulHeroy

    PaulHeroy Stunt Coordinator

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    Wayne's Blue Note albums of the 1960's are considered classics, but as others mentioned some get fairly abstract compared to other work he did. Wayne's own records are pretty sparse and uneven after the 60's and go in a different direction, more pop/electric. His other work in the 60's as a sideman with Miles & Art Blakey (though he always was featured as a composer in those bands) in that decade might be a better intro.

    There is a string of absolutely classic recordings he made with Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers from 1960-64, including Mosaic, Free For All (one of my all time favorites -- the title track has the intensity of free/energy jazz but in a straightahead hard bop setting), Ugetsu (live at Birdland!) and many others. Then of course his work in Miles "second quintet": Miles Smiles, ESP, Nefertiti, are great records and feature some compositions of Shorter's.

    Of Wayne's titles, Mike summed it up fairly well. I'd also mention Adam's Apple as a good quartet session that's not too "out there".

    Around 1969 he left Miles and with Joe Zawinul formed Weather Report, getting into the electric jazz-rock that Miles had started working with. The first few WR records are mostly pretty great stuff, though eventually Zawinul dominates and Shorter seems to fade into the background a bit. (With help from Jaco for a while, not that that's necessarily a bad thing just different greatness.)
     
  7. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    Great information team. Thanks! [​IMG]
     

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