Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
395

Wayne Shorter: The Soothsayer

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count Views
Wayne Shorter: The Soothsayer A good month for tenor saxophone connoisseurs, April 2008, with a second Rudy Van Gelder re-master released alongside Ike Quebec's signature Blue & Sentimental (Blue Note, 2008). The Soothsayer may be comparably less of a benchmark in Wayne Shorter's discography, and remains to some extent overshadowed by its close contemporary Speak No Evil (Blue Note, 1964), but it's a solid and enduring album—despite 15 years between the recording session and the original LP release.



Things were happening big time for Shorter in early 1965, when The Soothsayer was recorded. After five years with drummer and band leader Art Blakey as musician, composer and, finally, musical director, the saxophonist had recently joined trumpeter Miles Davis' second great quintet. With Davis, Shorter would record six studio albums over the next three years—the first, E.S.P. (Columbia, 1965) was recorded two months before The Soothsayer—plus a further four under his own name.



There was an embarrassment of Shorter riches around, and The Soothsayer was initially shelved to make way for the release of the more structurally adventurous The All Seeing Eye (Blue Note, 1965). When Shorter left Davis and joined Weather Report, The Soothsayer, temporarily, was overtaken by events. It was finally released in 1980.



The album finds Shorter in the company of two Davis quintet colleagues—bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams—together with pianist McCoy Tyner, then a member of saxophonist John Coltrane's classic quartet, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and the relatively unsung alto saxophonist James Spaulding. Hubbard and Carter had been retained from Speak No Evil; Tyner had been featured on the earlier Shorter albums Night Dreamer (Blue Note, 1964) and Ju Ju (Blue Note, 1964). Spaulding and Williams were new recruits.



Shorter's virile playing aside, the album is worthwhile for the presence of drum prodigy Williams (Shorter's regular drummers of the time were Elvin Jones and Joe Chambers)—who turns in an inventive solo on "Angola"—and for the strength of Shorter's writing. The triple meter, medium groove "Lost," the opener, is quintessential Shorter of the period. Eight years before the release of The Soothsayer it was featured on Weather Report's Live In Tokyo (Columbia, 1972). "Angola," which follows, sounds like it could have been written earlier, for Blakey's band. The haunting "Lady Day" is a ballad tribute to singer Billie Holiday.



Of interest too is Shorter's re-arrangement of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius' pretty "Valse Triste"—on Speak No Evil, Shorter had credited Sibelius as a key inspiration for that album's "Dance Cadaverous." The word "deconstruction" may not have been common jazz parlance in 1965, but deconstruct is exactly what Shorter does here, sensitively and engagingly.


Track Listing: Lost; Angola; The Big Push; The Soothsayer; Lady Day; Valse Triste; Angola (alternate take).

Personnel: Wayne Shorter: tenor saxophone; James Spaulding: alto saxophone; Freddie Hubbard: trumpet; McCoy Tyner: piano; Ron Carter: bass; Tony Williams: drums.

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Blue Note Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop For Jazz

CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
Best of / Year End
Interviews
Live Reviews
District Jazz
Read more articles
The Blue Note Albums
The Blue Note Albums
Blue Note Records
2015
buy
[no cover]
Odyssey Of Iska
Spirit One Records
2014
buy
[no cover]
Multiple Set Of 3...
Spirit One Records
2013
buy
Wayne Shorter Quartet: Without a Net
Wayne Shorter...
Blue Note Records
2013
buy
[no cover]
North Sea Jazz...
Songlines Recordings
2013
buy
Without a Net
Without a Net
Blue Note Records
2013
buy

More Articles

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.