Wayne Shorter is a bitch. A beautiful, complete player who since joining Miles has passed beyond his Coltrane phase, to a wholly personal sound and style. He has a basically tough tone but he can bend into sensitive softness (as in Jimmy Rowles’ 502 Blues) when a song demands it. ‘Adam’s Apple’, along with McCoy Tyner’s ‘The Real McCoy’ rates with the classic small group Blue Note albums which seem to have grown scarce since Liberty entered the picture.
It is a tour de force for Shorter the soloist as distinct from Shorter the composer. Wayne’s writing abilities with Blakey and other groups were ahead of his instrumental development. While a Shorter arrangement or composition was almost instantly recognizable, he tended to sound like a lot of other people (especially Coltrane) on tenor. Now we witness the emergence of a brilliant soloist, capable as the only horn of sustaining a magnificent flow of ideas throughout two long playing sides. Miles has given him that final polish.
There are three blues of different hues in this set Apple – so simple, effective and deep, 502, a controlled and underscored inspection of the form, and the lovely Footprints (Wayne has done it before with Miles), an undulating journey in 6/8 time. Teru(true?) is a gentle, down ballad on which Wayne shows his commanding ease and range with the saxophone. Horse and Gaucho are more complex pieces harmonically but Shorter is more than equal to the task of imposing subtler lines upon the melodies he commits to manuscript.
The playing of pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Reggie Workman and drummer Joe Chambers is exemplary. They merit a review on their own. Like the leader they are all extremely sophisticated, aware musicians, eminently right for expressing Wayne’s music. For goodness sake don’t miss this one.
Adam’s Apple; 502 Blues (Drinkin’ And Drivin’); El Gaucho (19½ min) – Footprints; Teru; Chief Crazy Horse (21 min)
Wayne Shorter (ten); Herbie Hancock (pno); Reginald Workman (bs); Joe Chambers (dm), Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1967.
(Blue Note [M] BLP 4232 [S] BST 84232 / 47s 5d)