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2005-03-08 - 1:11 a.m.

This Raymond Jess on an album I have had on today:

''Speak No Evil' was produced during one of the most innovative eras of jazz music, the early to mid-60's. 1964 was also the year John Coltrane produced 'A Love Supreme' and Eric Dolphy 'Out To Lunch'. Wayne Shorter managed to assemble some of the best players of that age to produce another jazz masterpiece.

Ron Carter from Miles Davis's group, as well as Herbie Hancock on an upward slope to greatness. Elvin Jones fresh from his playing on 'A Love Supreme' and Freddie Hubbard who we heard on 'Out To Lunch' earlier in the year.

Shorter had been playing with Coltrane in the late 50's but his style ended up more melodic as can be heard on the opener 'Witch Hunt', which sounds like the basis of his work with Weather Report in the 70's. Hubbard plays an ode to the past as Hancock arrives with a mellow swing. By the end of the track Shorter and Hubbard are beginning to sound like a full orchestra.

'Fe-Fi-Fo-Fum' has all the smokey charm of a bluesy barroom band much like Hancock's piano on 'Dance Cadaverous'. A track with a smouldering melody, Hubbard and Shorter play in unison, each with an ear for it's seemingly spontaneous development as it builds to a mid-track crescendo. On the title track itself, Hancock's playing is infectious and infused with feeling. Jones lets loose on Shorter's first solo before Hubbard takes over with his energetic and melodic playing.

More beautiful and airy sax on 'Infant Eyes' before we get Shorter's introverted solo on 'Wild Flower' followed by Hubbard's loud and engaging one. Hancock is again amazing against Jones's drumming.

Shorter was extraordinarily lucky to have these players at the peak of their powers’

Well I don’t know about luck – its an album which to my ears sounds close to ESP – a strong rec in my terms. This is partly because of the way that Shorter sounds on the long notes. Its after Trane by no means identical – I think probably he shifts pitch more which brings a different kind of expressiveness. If I was going off on one I would say that there s a need to look at Lester Young, Trane and Shorter to consider how the saxophone voice feeds into the ND voice.

So I listened to the unaccompanied RM – and I heard the colourtone over the major chord – is a sharp fourth. And I remembered that on Standing In the Shadow of Motown the band remember how the young Stevie Wonder just liked to hangout with funk brothers and ask questions – including about colourtones – and there is a reference to that particular tone. I don’t usually think of that tone as a colourtone exactly.

Then I thought about harmonic pressure and line rhetoric – its absurd.

But I did hear the Detroit harmony in Like a Virgin the other day – if you listen to the backing track – you can hear the big backbeat and all the figures locking in not just to the rhythm but filling the harmony too – like the music does, say, of Dancing In the Street – where the breadth of the harmony evokes the breadth of the song’s aspiration – round the world – new rhythm.

Then I listened to Jackson Browne picking his way through Chelsea Girls. – apparently he was sixteen? In Rolling Stone’s view: ‘ Browne's poetic visions of loneliness in "The Fairest of the Seasons" and "These Days," where Nico's thick alto bruises the gentle acoustic-guitar picking and ethereal string parts -- recently used on the Royal Tenenbaums soundtrack, as well as in a Kmart ad campaign -- sums up the album's tone of woeful resignation: "If I seem to be afraid to live the life that I have made in song/It's just that I've been losing so long."

You can hear the Lamont Young overtones on Little Sister – off the organ. I think you get that on Desertshore and Northern Sky. You forget that the East Village Ludlow ST VU demos were a lot like folk. Wish I’d bought that Duosonic in Ludlow St.

On Speak No Evil its drum n bass out of the Motorcity.

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