Recent listening, current

Monday, November 18, 2013

150. Wayne Shorter / Juju (1964)

Shorter's second LP for Blue Note finds him branching out as a composer and even experimenting with a different sound from his reed. There's no Lee Morgan in this group, but the rest is the same as on Night Dreamer. On the opening "Juju" he uses a harsher tone and plays stretchy, contemplative phrases that explore his interpretation of a chant-like African melody through the repetition of its few tonalities. The rhythm section pins down the whole thing, and often with Shorter sketching and resketching the vaguest of melodic ideas, it's Reggie Workman and McCoy Tyner who indicate where the melody actually is. In a word, spooky. Elvin Jones gets behind it (seemingly several times at once) and it works. The group's dynamic for much of the album is the same as it was with Coltrane's band, and it's instructional to listen to Juju's tracks mixed at random with Coltrane's Live at the Village Vanguard. Try that and tell me what you think. The fabled Workman-Tyner-Jones unit is like one animal, it has one sound, and it's a very distinctive one. Then you've got the tenor on top of that, either the master or his understudy, and either way it's magic. Like Night Dreamer before it, Juju clearly originates in blues and bop, but turn around and you'll find that shoreline quickly vanishing behind you.

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