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Speak No Evil [LP]
Vinyl | LP (12" album, 33 rpm)
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Speak No Evil
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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, Extra tracks, March 23, 1999
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Speak No Evil is recent Grammy®-winner, Wayne Shorter's sixth album. Recorded in 1964 and released on Blue Note in 1965 the album features Shorter on tenor sax with Herbie Hancock on piano, Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Ron Carter on bass and Elvin Jones on drums. Speak No Evil combines elements of hard bop and modal jazz on the album's six tracks: "Witch Hunt," "Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum," "Dance Cadaverous," "Speak No Evil," "Infant Eyes" and "Wild Flower". Celebrating 50 years since its recording, Speak No Evil was newly-remastered for vinyl by Alan Yoshida at Dunning-Kruger in Los Angeles as part of an overall Blue Note 75th anniversary vinyl reissue campaign spearheaded by current Blue Note Records President, Don Was.
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Top customer reviews
I won't comment on the music or performance, as much more experienced Jazz fans have done that, but it's considered a classic, and a "Core Collection" recording by many. For the performance I would give a four to five star rating, but this vinyl release left me slightly underwhelmed.
Blue Note's 75th anniversary initiative to re-release highlights from their catalogue has given many newer fans to start building a Jazz collection on band new pristine vinyl. I've bought a couple so far including "Midnight Blue", "Idle Moments" and "Undercurrent" all of which have been wonderfully re-mastered and issued on heavy weight 180g vinyl.
Unfortunately "Speak no Evil" doesn't seem to have had the same treatment, the vinyl is thin, and side two of my copy decidedly crackly. The actual mastering does not seem to have the depth and warmth of the other releases, and is rather thin sounding.
I'm wondering if that this was because this release was one of the first in the new 75th series, and they later decided to issue subsequent releases on 180g vinyl. A shame, as this is one of the classics.
How can THAT be accessible? Despite the odd scales and intervals, the melodies are straightforward and singable. Yes, experimental jazz can have hooks. The polished sound of Shorter and trumpeter Freddie Hubbard stating the themes seals the deal. The music is also emotionally accessible. Though far from the ii-v-i tensions we all know and love, Shorter's songs create their own tensions and releases. The moods vary wildly from the extroverted Witch Hunt to the haunting Dance Cadaverous to the plaintive Infant Eyes. The wonder is that Shorter senses how listeners will react emotionally to sounds that they have never heard before.
The sound is clear and bright. Shorter plays with fade outs at the end of songs to extend the moods he has created. Though common for rock and roll tunes of the day, this was another departure for jazz.
The final indicator that Shorter produced something "extra special" was when I compared it to Shorter's JuJu. With much respect to McCoy Tyner, who plays marvelously on JuJu, I greatly missed Hubbard and Hancock on JuJu. They are irreplaceable ingredients used to create the unrepeatable lightning-in-a-bottle whose name is "Speak No Evil".