Wayne Shorter is a colossus of the sax, who, as well as recording the three great Blue Note albums under review and lots, lots more in later decades also managed to guest on the Rolling Stones Bridges to Babylon album. He mixed sonic gold into Joni Mitchell's Hejira album and added verve and a kind of contained brio to Steely Dan's painstakingly perfectionist Aja sessions in the 1970s.
Not sure about Bridges to Babylon, but any true fan of Joni Mitchell will know that Hejira is without doubt one of the greatest albums of the 1970s, graced by the work of two exceedingly talented jazz musicians, the late bassist Jaco Pastorious and Wayne Shorter, who was born in 1933 and is happily still with us. Both were also members of the band Weather Report around this time.
The contributions to Mitchell and Steely Dan were minor side projects clearly but they were enough for someone who was listening obsessively to Dan and Mitchell in the 1980s to be curious about what the ten-time Grammy award-winner did on the day job.
JuJu was recorded in 1964 in New Jersey. The African-biased title track opened the door into an imaginative, visionary place, unavoidably haunted by the ghost of John Coltrane with whom Shorter had served a musical apprenticeship in the 1950s. On Speak no Evil, his third album for Blue Note that fecund year of 1964, Shorter kept Elvin Jones and employed his former Miles Davis cohorts, pianist Herbie Hancock and bassist Ron Carter with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard also on board. Listen to the subtle mid-tempo romp, Dance Cadaverous and the fey or should that be blithe title track.
A prolific writer throughout this period, the consummate saxophonist - a master on both tenor and soprano, incidentally - composed four of the five originals on The All Seeing Eye, which was released in 1965. The album features Hubbard once again, with James Spaulding on alto sax, trombonist Grachan Moncur III, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Joe Chambers. Wayne's brother, Alan Shorter, guested on flügelhorn on the last track, Mephistopheles.