Five very different albums from the great Wayne Shorter – all from a time when he was really taking off with his music! Night Dreamer is one of the greatest Wayne Shorter albums for Blue Note, and one of our favorite jazz albums ever! The record is a masterpiece of lyrical delight – soul jazz mixed with slight touches of experimentalism – but still warm, swinging, and personal enough to captivate even the most novice jazz listener. A players are at the top of their game – and in addition to Shorter's tenor, the group features Lee Morgan on trumpet, McCoy Tyner on piano, Reggie Workman on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums. The tracks unfold in lyrical, modal beauty in a really wonderful way that was barely ever duplicated again – and titles include "Night Dreamer", "Oriental Folk Song", "Virgo", "Charcoal Blues", "Armageddon", and "Black Nile". Soothsayer is a great Wayne Shorter session from the mid 60s – recorded then, but not issued until 1979, for some incredibly unexplained reason – especially given the strength of the set! The group is distinctly modern, and features Freddie Hubbard
on trumpet, James Spaulding on alto, and McCoy Tyner on piano – all of who were committed to heavily pushing the boundaries of their playing at the time. Added to the mix is the youthful Tony Williams on drums, fresh from work with Miles Davis, and playing with an incredibly free hand on the kit – plus the great Ron Carter on bass. The resulting mix of tracks is a beautiful example of how these mid-60s Blue Note sessions could keep firmly in touch with modern developments in jazz, yet never lapse into the kind of sloppiness that could sometimes ruin sets like these on other labels – always with a keen sense of timing and rhythm, and a sharpness that made Blue Note's "new" newer-sounding than most. Titles include "Lost", "Angola", "The Big Push", and an amazing jazz take on Sibelius' "Valse Triste"! Etcetera has a very sharp-edged quartet sound – a bit modern and edgey at times, with sharp tenor lines from Shorter, piano from Herbie Hancock, bass from Cecil McBee, and drums from Joe Chambers. Wayne recorded the date in 1965, but the material wasn't issued by Blue Note until 15 years later – a delay that somehow made the whole thing even more of a gem, especially at a time when Shorter wasn't blowing this strongly on record. Tracks include four originals "Toy Tune", "Penelope", "Etcetera", and "Barracudas" – plus the Gil Evans number "Barracudas (General Assembly)". Adams Apple is an incredible album – one of our favorite Blue Notes ever! Despite the fact that the album's a spare quartet session, the record is one of Wayne Shorter's richest – and features his gutsy young tenor soloing insanely with a rhythmically intense combo that includes Herbie Hancock on piano, Reggie Workman on bass, and Joe Chambers on drums – a wonderfully free-thinking rhythm trio! Workman's bass is especially strong, and it underpins the cuts with a throbbing pulse that takes them past any simple hardbop conventions. Every cut's a winner – and this is one album we reach for time and time again over the years! Titles include "Adam's Apple", "El Gaucho", "Footprints", and "Teru". Schizophrenia is a session from the late 60s that has Wayne Shorter pushing into a searching, spiritual groove, but one that's still filled with all the taught electricity of his earlier recordings on Blue Note! Shorter's accompanied by youthful modernists like James Spaulding on alto, Herbie Hancock on piano, Ron Carter on bass, and Joe Chambers on drums – plus the mighty Curtis Fuller on trombone, whose instrument here proves to be the same key extra ingredient that it was on the best Art Blakey sextet sessions of the 60s. There's a tight, soulful feel here that's sublime – an Adams Apple sort of groove, but a bit fuller – and titles include the classic "Tom Thumb", plus "Playground", "Schizoprhenia", "Kryptonite", "Miyako", and "Go".