Speak No Evil (180Gm Analogue)
Format: LP, Vinyl
Wayne Shorter recorded ‘Speak No Evil’ on Christmas Eve 1964, shortly after joining the Miles Davis Quintet. It is his third album for Blue Note and generally regarded as his best. Not only had his playing attained an impressive maturity, but his compositional skills seem to be at a peak, combining his grounding with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, whom he just left and the more challenging environment of Miles second great quintet. The line-up is exciting with Coltrane’s drummer Elvin Jones and fellow Miles sidemen Ron Carter and Herbie Hancock on bass and piano respectively. Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard is in fine form too. ‘Witch Hunt’, a swinging blues with fine contributions from Shorter and then Hubbard sizzles yet has an other-worldly vibe. The slower ‘Fee Fi Fo Fum’ has deliberate, plodding rhythm that meanders pleasantly. The haunting and evocative ‘Dance Cadaverous’ possesses a simply gorgeous melody that the horns convey magnificently in the opening bars. Hancock’ solo is a thing of beauty as is Shorter’s. On ‘Speak No Evil’, Shorter and Hubbard improvisations are unusual and inspiring, whilst Elvin Jones drives the rhythm forward with vigour. Ron Carter holds it steady and that allows the band to be explorative. Nothing short of a masterpiece. The (now) Jazz standard ‘Infant Eyes’, inspired by Shorter’s daughter, is beautifully simple and evocative. ‘Wild Flower’, with its intriguing and unusual time signature, concludes an album that combines invention and accessibility. ‘Speak No Evil’ is a musician at the top of his game, it helps too when the entire group excel as Hancock, Hubbard, Jones and Carter do throughout. If you only get just one Wayne Shorter album, make it this one.