395

Wayne Shorter: The Soothsayer

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
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

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Porcupine Meat" CD/LP/Track Review Porcupine Meat
by James Nadal
Published: September 29, 2016
Read "Upset The Status Quo" CD/LP/Track Review Upset The Status Quo
by James Nadal
Published: May 11, 2016
Read "Shovel Down" CD/LP/Track Review Shovel Down
by Doug Collette
Published: December 18, 2016
Read "Candy Prince" CD/LP/Track Review Candy Prince
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 25, 2016
Read "Lea Áigi" CD/LP/Track Review Lea Áigi
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 23, 2016
Read "I Just Want to Get Paid!" CD/LP/Track Review I Just Want to Get Paid!
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 15, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!