Recent listening, current

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

97. Wayne Shorter / Wayning Moments (1962)

This album, his last LP on the Vee-Jay label and only his third as a leader, has aged very well. That's quite typical of other titles in the Shorter catalog. But in addition to providing really good listening for 2013, I think Wayning Moments should be important to listeners for another reason. It demonstrates his skills as soloist, leader, and composer at an early stage. It's the prelude to his Blue Note years, a simple portrait of blues and bop that was perhaps more appropriate to the market Vee-Jay was reaching than the music Shorter would record for Blue Note. I turn it on and marvel at the growth of the artist from tenor in the Jazz Messengers, to this year's Without a Net. Say anything you like about Wayne Shorter, you cannot ignore the arc, the sweep, of his career in music. Recorded 1961, the sounds contained here are very much in the same vein as Blakey's Jazz Messengers. It's hard bop with both feet in the blues, straight-ahead jazz that is very slick and rendered with virtuosic skill. The band stays tight, the arrangements are concise, and no one takes too many chances. But no one needs to, because they're clearly not trying to do anything of the sort. In the opener, Freddie Hubbard plays alongside Shorter, adding strident Latin overtones to Bonfa and Jobim's "Black Orpheus." Eddie Higgins also gets in some nice choruses on piano, like the one in Shorter's "Dead End," "Callaway Went That-A-Way," or his comping and interplay with Shorter's solo voice in "All of Nothing at All" that is simply magical. Shorter has every other composition credit on the album for a total of four. Sandwiching Shorter's music between piecess by other composers (or maybe it's the other way around?), the album does not feel a single bit uneven, a testament to both the group and the compositions.

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