Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Wayne Shorter's "Wayning Moments" by Don Gold

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

As the masthead states - “JazzProfiles is dedicated to “focused profiles on Jazz and its makers while also featuring the work of guest writers on Jazz.”

Don Gold was hired by Jack Tracy in 1956 to become his Associate Editor at Down Beat magazine and when Jack left to join Mercury Records in March 1958, Don succeeded him as editor.

Since the magazine was based in Chicago and staffed with writers who appreciated and understood the music, musicians and record labels with a presence in the “Windy City” often turned to the magazine for authors to compose liner notes for their LP’s.

Here’s an example of Don’s excellent writing from the annotations he wrote for one of tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter’s earliest recordings as a leader before he joined Blue Note Records.

The LP was recorded in Chicago in 1962 and issued as Wayne Shorter: Wayning Moments on the VeeJay label [SR 3029]. It was subsequently released on CD by Fresh Sound Records.

In all he does within the world of jazz, Wayne Shorter selects his companions with great care and discrimination. In his first Vee Jay LP - Introducing Wayne Shorter (Vee Jay LP-3006) - he was joined by such first-rate jazzmen as trumpeter Lee Morgan and the rhythm section from Miles Davis' elite unit: pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb.

In this follow-up to that worthwhile set, the tenor man is joined by trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, one of the most respected of young horn men in current circulation, and a solid rhythm section of pianist Eddie Higgins, bassist James Merritt and drummer Marshall Thompson.

Shorter does not succumb to whim. A serious and sincere musician, he makes his moves judiciously. For this reason, he has turned down more jobs than he's accepted; in fact, for several periods during his career he's taken jobs outside of music rather than work with inferior musicians or play music he couldn't endorse.

After spending several years both in and out of jazz, diligently striving to find the Vight' slot for himself in music, Wayne landed with Art Blakey's Messengers. The experience, in a setting guaranteed by Blakey to promote individuality, proved to be one of the most rewarding in Wayne's service to jazz. Since he took advantage, eagerly, of the offer to become a Messenger, he's become a firmly authoritative spokesman for the straightforward, uncluttered, basic kind of jazz his playing personifies.

Although his playing bears certain similarities to that of John Coltrane, Wayne's roots extend far beyond Coltrane into the vast mainstream tradition of tenor players. His imagination enables him to create intriguing originals, tailor-made for improvisation, and to select comparably appealing material by other composers. In this outing, four of the tunes are by Wayne: "Devil's Island", "Dead End", "Powder Keg" and "Callaway Went That-A-Way". One, "Wayning Moments", is by pianist Higgins. "Black Orpheus" is from the score for the film of that name, by Antonio Carlos Jobin and Luis Bonfa; the superb film, by the way, was a 1959 Grand Prize winner at the Cannes Film Festival. "Moon of Manakoora" was written by Frank Loesser and Alfred Newman for the 1937 movie, The Hurricane. "All Or Nothing At All", composed by Jack Lawrence and Arthur Altman in 1940, was one of the young Frank Sinatra's notable hits.

The performances given these tunes by Shorter and cohorts are not intended to shock the listener through the use of assorted avant garde techniques. This is not experimental jazz. It is as divorced from the Third Stream as the Nile is from the Mississippi. These performances are the work of jazzmen more concerned with improvisation - with freewheeling and unimpeded blowing - than creating impressive intellectual structures. Theirs is the world of the soloist. It inspires admiration only in terms of the accomplishments of the men on hand, their musicianship and their skill in transforming ideas into sound.

From the exotic view of "Black Orpheus" to the swinging gallop of "Callaway Went That-A-Way", with sizzling and balladic stops between, they tell you the way they were feeling and some of the thoughts they had the day they recorded this music. It is unadorned, but fervently probing, jazz. And in its freedom from gimmickry, it is as honest and as direct as jazz can get. As a key to the growth of the individualist in jazz, it is at the very heart of jazz.”

The following video features the Devil’s Island track from the LP.

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