Speak No Evil

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Speak No Evil
Speak No Evil-Wayne Shorter.jpg
Studio album by Wayne Shorter
Released June 1966 (1966-06)
Recorded December 24, 1964
Studio Van Gelder Studio
Englewood Cliffs
Genre Post-bop, hard bop, modal jazz
Length 42:11
Label Blue Note
Producer Alfred Lion
Wayne Shorter chronology
JuJu
(1965)JuJu1965
Speak No Evil
(1965)
The Soothsayer
(1965)The Soothsayer1965

Speak No Evil is the sixth album by Wayne Shorter. It was released in June 1966 by Blue Note Records.[1] The music combines elements of hard bop and modal jazz. The cover shows Wayne Shorter's first wife, Teruko (Irene) Nakagami, whom he met in 1961.

Players[edit]

Having employed a version of John Coltrane's "classic quartet" rhythm section on both of his previous albums for Blue Note, Shorter altered the configuration somewhat on Speak No Evil, suggesting the influence of his recent drafting into Miles Davis's "second quintet". Held over from the previous session is Coltrane's drummer Elvin Jones, but newly arrived from Davis's band were, on piano and bass respectively, Herbie Hancock and Ron Carter. Rounding out the quintet on trumpet is Freddie Hubbard, an associate of Shorter's from his days as musical director of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Hubbard was also, by 1964, a frequent collaborator of Hancock's. The line-up is very similar to the later VSOP quintet, with Elvin Jones instead of Tony Williams on drums.

Compositions[edit]

Shorter brought six new compositions to the Christmas Eve session. According to Shorter (as quoted in Don Heckman's liner notes), in writing the material for this album he was "thinking of misty landscapes with wild flowers and strange, dimly-seen shapes — the kind of place where folklore and legends are born. And then I was thinking of things like witch burnings too." Fairy tales were also an inspiration: the bluesy "Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum" is titled after the trademark exclamation of the giant in Jack and the Beanstalk.

Performances[edit]

Though the album's ties to the avant-garde have sometimes been noted (The Penguin Guide to Jazz,[2] Allmusic.com), the tunes are quite rigidly and conventionally structured.[citation needed] Almost all of them begin with a brief written introduction, followed by one or two statements of long-lined theme, played in lockstep harmony by the two horns. All of the pieces follow the head-solo-head format, long a standard in bebop.

Shorter's laconic, austere soloing on Speak No Evil is in marked contrast to his earlier, grace-note-laden, Coltrane-derived style.[citation needed] Several of the other performers cue the emotional pitch of their performances to the leader's newfound terseness: several critics have noted that Jones, Carter and Hubbard are uncharacteristically low-key, although Hancock is mostly himself.[citation needed] Hubbard's contributions are in fact limited to four of the album's tracks; he sits out completely on "Infant Eyes", and appears only on the two statements of theme bookending "Dance Cadaverous". Neither Jones nor Carter performs a solo on this album.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
Allmusic5/5 stars[3]
The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide5/5 stars[4]
Sputnikmusic5/5[5]

Speak No Evil was one of several albums Shorter recorded for Blue Note in 1964. At the same time, he was also active in Miles Davis's band, and so it is unlikely that Speak No Evil received any special attention at the time of its release. But the passage of time has led to the album being generally regarded as Shorter's finest, and also a highlight of the Blue Note catalogue. The Penguin Guide to Jazz selected this album as part of its suggested "Core Collection" calling it "by far Shorter's most satisfying record".[2] Allmusic assigns the album five stars. Murray Horwitz stated in 2001 that "Speak No Evil is sort of a consolidation of Wayne Shorter's compositional excellence. It's so thorough and consistent and wide-ranging. It's almost a manifesto for his ideas. Those ideas were new 40 years ago, but they're still fresh today."[6] Rough Guide author Ian Carr wrote it is "a classic album in terms of both composition and improvisation, and has been inspirational for many musicians".[7] New York Times critic Ben Ratliff included the album in his publication Jazz: A Critic's Guide to the 100 Most Important Recordings stating that it offers "the first taste of a gnomic compositional style that would haunt jazz forevermore. [...] Just about everybody playing jazz born in the 1950s and after accepts it as a foundation."[8]

The acclaim has not been unanimous. Down Beat's website, for example, does not list Speak No Evil among its highlights of Shorter's career, and David Wilson of the website Wilson & Alroy's Record Reviews awards the album three stars out of five and describes it as "more or less standard bop" and "antiseptic next to mid-60s classics like Maiden Voyage or Out To Lunch."

Releases[edit]

Speak No Evil was initially released on LP in 1966, as BLP 4194 and BST 84194, and first released on CD in 1987. The first remastered version, supervised by Rudy Van Gelder, was released in 1999, with an alternative version of "Dance Cadaverous". A definitive remastered limited edition was issued in Japan on SHM-CD on October 23, 2013; just like many other recent Japanese Blue Note SHM-CDs, the recordings were remastered from scratch, improving on the Van Gelder mix. It also includes two alternate takes previously unissued. Finally, the colour palette of the cover, featuring a sky blue dominant, greatly differs from the RVG edition one (dark blue-violet), restoring the original vinyl palette.

Track listing[edit]

All compositions by Wayne Shorter.

Original CD[edit]

No.TitleLength
1."Witch Hunt"8:11
2."Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum"5:54
3."Dance Cadaverous"6:45
4."Speak No Evil"8:23
5."Infant Eyes"6:54
6."Wild Flower"6:06

RVG remaster edition[edit]

No.TitleLength
1."Witch Hunt"8:11
2."Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum"5:54
3."Dance Cadaverous"6:45
4."Speak No Evil"8:23
5."Infant Eyes"6:54
6."Wild Flower"6:06
7."Dance Cadaverous" (Alternate Take)6:37

2013 Blue Note SHM-CD remaster edition (Japan release)[edit]

No.TitleLength
1."Witch Hunt"8:11
2."Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum"5:54
3."Dance Cadaverous"6:45
4."Speak No Evil"8:23
5."Infant Eyes"6:54
6."Wild Flower"6:06
7."Dance Cadaverous" (Alternate Take)6:37
8."Witch Hunt" (Alternate Take)6:55
9."Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum" (Alternate Take)5:59

Personnel[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Schwann Monthly Guide to Stereo Records. 19 (10-12): 277. 
  2. ^ a b Cook, Richard; Brian Morton (2006) [1992]. "Wayne Shorter". The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings. The Penguin Guide to Jazz (8th. ed.). New York: Penguin. p. 1189. ISBN 0-14-102327-9. 
  3. ^ https://www.allmusic.com/album/r147531
  4. ^ Swenson, J., ed. (1985). The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide. USA: Random House/Rolling Stone. p. 180. ISBN 0-394-72643-X. 
  5. ^ "Wayne Shorter: Speak No Evil". Sputnikmusic. sputnikmusic.com. Retrieved 7 May 2018. 
  6. ^ Horwitz, Murray (August 1, 2001) "Wayne Shorter: 'Speak No Evil'". npr.org
  7. ^ Carr, Ian; Fairweather, Digby; Priestley, Brian (1995). The Rough Guide to Jazz - The Essential Companion to Artists and Albums. Rough Guides Ltd. p. 586. ISBN 1-85828-137-7. 
  8. ^ Ratliff, Ben (2002). Jazz: A Critic's Guide to the 100 Most Important Recordings. New York Times Essential Library. Times Books. p. 171. ISBN 0-8050-7068-0.