JJ 07/70: Wayne Shorter – Super Nova

A review by Mark Gardner, first published in Jazz Journal July 1970

On this weird ‘space music’ record Shorter plays only soprano saxophone which he has been concentrating on of late. He seems to have patterned his playing after that of John Coltrane, although his tone is not quite so dry as was Trane’s.

Nothing on the album really turns me around and it is a far cry from Shorter’s splendid Adam’s Apple set. The emphasis on free playing may be ex­plained by what the liner note calls ‘a very loose date with no rehearsal’. Some aspects of the performances just don’t make sense. For instance the ‘play-as-we-please’ wild in­troduction and ending to Dindi bears no re­lationship at all to Maria Booker’s slow and emotional bossa (but not super) nova vocal.


Super Nova is one of those increasingly numerous sound storms that batter the ears these days while Swee-pea, a tribute to Strayhorn, of course, is a limpid, static theme that fails to get off the ground. Water Babies has a typical Coltrane type of atmosphere as in­deed does the rather boring Capricorn. Neither was I especially enlightened by the curious More Than Human, with its banjo-like accompaniment.

For this listener the LP is, as you will gather, largely baffling. Barry McRae, on the other hand, may have been able to offer a more useful evaluation of the proceedings. Herb Wong reckons ‘the Shorter album sets up movement for new directions with consum­mate power’. One wonders if the new direc­tions are the right directions. Let’s just say they’re not my bag and leave it at that.

Super Nova; Swee-Pea; Dindi (19 min) – Water Babies; Capricorn; More Than Human (18¾ min)
Wayne Shorter (sop); John McLaughlin, Sonny Sharrock, Walter Booker (gtr); Jack DeJohnette (dm/African thumb pno); Chick Corea (dm/vib); Moroslav Vitous (bs); Airto Moreira (perc); Maria Booker (vcl on Dindi only). NYC, 29/8 & 2/9/69.
(Blue Note BST 84332 47s 6d)


Jazz Journal articles by month


Brad Mehldau: Finding Gabriel

The pianist’s new release, featuring 10 original compositions performed by Brad Mehldau and a host of musical guests, is full of exciting...

Still Clinging to the Wreckage 03/19

The excitement mounts – well, it does in this house – with the forthcoming release by the Mosaic phoenix of The Complete...

Keith Tippett: spontaneous combustor

During the late 60s and early 70s British jazz enjoyed a mainstream popularity it has struggled to regain ever since. There was...

Adrian Rollini: The Life And Music Of A Jazz Rambler

The provenance of this bass sax-sized volume is most unusual. Forty years ago Dutchman Tom Faber, drawn to Rollini by the records...

Modern Jazz Quartet: Live

The glut of plastic that is choking the oceans of the world is entirely due to the surfeit of CDs and DVDs...

JJ 04/90: Guy Barker – Holly J

Now 31, Guy Barker has been a professional musician since he was 20. Yet he could hardly be described as well known...