Wayne Shorter: Night Dreamer (1964) Blue Note


Selection 1: Night Dreamer (Shorter)

Selection 2: Virgo (Shorter)


Lee Morgan (t) Wayne Shorter (ts) McCoy Tyner (p) Reggie Workman (b) Elvin Jones (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, April 29, 1964


1964China explodes its first nuclear bomb, thought  by test site residents to be one helluva impressive firework; Hasbro launch G.I. Joe, an action figure for boys, to counter Barbie’s Ken. Joe forms unexpected bond with Ken.  President Lyndon Johnson declares War On Poverty. Poverty vows to fight on.


Wayne Shorter’s first recording for Blue Note as leader marks a significant shift in jazz, away from figurative towards more abstract forms. Moods, tones and colourings take precedent over a story telling through melody. Reid Miles cover picks up the change: shifting blurred indistinct shapes though still obviously human form, replacing Francis Wolff’s iconic portraiture. Not for Blue Note the self-consciously abstract drip-art of Jackson Pollock or titles borrowed from Freud for the Jung, but heralding the shape of things to come.

Shorter’s brooding  intensity in Night Dreamer is kept in check by the presence of fellow bop-mate Lee Morgan and the more lyrically-inclined McCoy Tyner, who was not to be comfortable with Coltrane’s increasing introspection, while Elvin Jones ensures the beat is never far away. It remains, on the surface at least,  a conventional album, it swings,  but straining at the leash of Bop, beginning to intone a new vocabulary, Shorter starting to find his own voice.

Six Shorter “compositions”. Gone is the era of “standards” as the platform for improvisation. It is no longer necessary to recognise the tune. Or for there to even be one, other than as an incidental by-product of repeated play. The tune is no longer automatically the hero, the leading man. The mood, the texture, the interaction between three, four, five musicians is the subject. Though the piece “Virgo” is a perfect partner to a New York city lights at night. It’s enough to make you want to take up smoking again.

Vinyl: BLP 4173,  NY, ear, VAN GELDER, mono, 178 gm, 49 years old.

My first “real” Shorter Blue Note. I noticed all of the others were either Liberty or Japanese reissues  –  Resident Evil (or is that a film?) Shiatzu-phrenia (or is that a dog?) , Adams Apple (or is that a refreshing fruit drink?) Juju… this joke has run out of steam. With a landmark birthday coming up, I figured I owed myself a treat.



Collectors Corner



Source: Ebay (Italy)
Sellers Description:
Original blue note inc. lp – Mono copy –  ( r ) – Deep Groove label – VAN GELDER & EAR ON TRAIL OFF; NEW YORK USA LABEL; TOP COPY ! TOP CONDITION ! My prefer his album too !! COVER :  MINT; RECORD :  MINT

Another seller who can’t tell the difference between Deep Groove and Not Deep Groove, and slightly reckless in application of the word “mint” , but not to nitpick, the cover is a joy, and the condition is better than most, so who is complaining about a record coming up to its fiftieth birthday? I should have looked so good at fifty, but as they say, if I had known I was going to live this long I would have taken more care of myself. This replaces a rather too smooth Japanese pressing, which does not live up to the more gritty pure mono Blue Note quality this recording deserves.

The Ebay seller used a fancy 60’s go-go girl avatar, with name to match, so it came as something of a surprise when they signed off the email “Thanks you buy my record, Tony“. Not sure why I was surprised, as some time ago I bought from a London seller with a typically dodgy Ebay name, his Paypal account was in an Asian ladies name, his email came from someone called “Albert” and he signed it “Norman”. Mind you, I am one to talk. Londonjazzcollector. What kind of name is that?

26 thoughts on “Wayne Shorter: Night Dreamer (1964) Blue Note

    • The West Coast Blue/Blacks – “Liberty UA “(which wouldn’t surprise me, I have a good few and they have great presence)- or Blue Label /black note 1973+ (which would surprise me, though not impossible)? The Japanese was definitely not up to the mark, curious what you reckon.


      • Its a 1973-76 blue/black and side 2 deadwax is consistent with the united artists pressing ” -X-2″. I have a 73-76 blue/black wayne shorter juju that is really bad. The bass is nonexistent


        • I think this is an interesting debate. I find the blue black as mentioned above, incredibly variable. From muffled – A New Perspective – to alive and swinging – I think my No Room For Squares.
          I think it just depended on the mastering engineer on the day, or perhaps in the case above a left over Van Gelder lacquer.
          I think this may need some serious listening and run out groove investigation.


          • Your Blue/Black A New Perspective is muffled? Mine holds up “Decent” against my NY Mono Plastylite pressing. and for the price I paid? Unbeatable. Here is it with all the crappy youtube compression.


            • Might be my system then.
              Just setting up a new one in my living room in the next few weeks, and will look forward to giving it another go.


            • Robert
              If you read above that was my initial conclusion.
              Miggy thought it might be something else as his was as good as his original. Hence my last reply.


          • Really? Damn! JUJU is incredibly expensive when it comes up on auctions. I’m really disappointed about the Cymbals. I was thinking about trying those Music Matters 45rpm for JUJU.


            • The Music Matters is about as good as it gets, but overall it was not one of Van Gelders better days in the studio…


          • The reality is that if you went to hear the Jazz Messengers in 1964, there was no bass either. By the mid 60s, Reggie Workman (and most other bass players) were constantly struggling to be heard over the increasingly louder volume of the piano and horns and the _unbelievably_ loud drums of Elvin Jones. One of the reasons that McCoy Tyner eventually cited for leaving the John Coltrane Quartet was that he could no longer hear himself over the roar of Jones and Coltrane. You can only imagine what Jimmy Garrison had to deal with.

            In his book “Ascension”, Eric Niesenson describes his own first impression upon hearing the Coltrane Quartet for the first time at the Village Vanguard with one word: “loud”.

            Alfred Lion and Rudy Van Gelder were committed to achieving an “ensemble sound” with Blue Note recordings; rather than try and achieve a “balanced” sound between the individual members of a group, they attempted to capture the overall sound they created playing together in the studio. This means that in the case of many 60s group sessions, the bass is often very difficult to hear.

            One of the things I dislike about some modern remasters is attempts to “fix” the the bass “problem” with equalization, etc. The way I see it, the original LPs reflect the final, overall sound that Alfred Lion approved for release and create the impact he and Van Gelder were trying to achieve.


            • Well the bass is perfectly audible on almost all other Blue Note, and Impulse etc. releases recorded by RVG so I am not sure how you reach that conclusion.


  1. Adam’s Apple is my favourite Shorter release on BN. If you get an original Van Gelder pressing it sounds very very nice.


  2. Wayne Shorter’s Blue Note sessions from Night Dreamer through Schizophrenia is top notch (“MIyako” on Schizophrenia may be one of my favorite ballads ever). After getting over Blue Note first pressing fever, I managed to snag decent Japan pressings of most of Shorter’s LPs, including Night Dreamer, Adam’s Apple (which is worth trying). Solid blue copies are also worth a try although the quality of the pressing and/or condition can vary.


  3. Every time I throw on one of Wayne Shorter’s Blue Note albums, I find myself marveling at how consistently good they are. Before getting into Blue Note LPs, I was barely aware of Wayne Shorter, but as I have explored the Blue Note catalog, I find that Shorter’s, as well as Herbie Hancock’s, albums are the ones I keep coming back to.

    I do have to part ways with you with regard to one thing, however: for me one of the most compelling aspects of Shorter’s and Hancock’s early catalog is the tunes themselves. Shorter has an amazing ability to write tunes that are at once instantly recognizable as his own work, but also unique and innovative in their own right.

    For me, even some of the great jazz albums have one or two forgettable tunes, even if the improvising is still worth hearing. This is one of the things, in my opinion, that perhaps makes Prestige releases somewhat less accessible. While the solos might be compelling, often the tunes are either throw-aways or standards where the head is merely to be gotten through in order to get into blowing.

    While Shorter’s melodies are often simple, as with “Armageddon”, these melodies are often serve as a setting for sophisticated underlying rhythmic and harmonic ideas. That being said, I think Shorter is also capable of producing unforgettable melodies as well. “Dance Cadaverous”, to name one, gets stuck in my head all the time.

    While it seems unlikely at this point that Shorter and Hancock’s names will never be placed alongside Miles Davis and John Coltrane in the pantheon of the public’s imagination, I hope that as time goes on more and more people discover these amazing albums.


    • Perceptive comments, as usual.

      About songs or tunes – I had more in mind the departure from big “heroic” tunes as per Monk, ‘Round Midnight, and such like, not to say there aren’t tunes apparent in, well, just about anything musical. Or may be its just me.

      Philosophy class. There is definitely something that happens with repeated play – a tune not immediately evident pops up. The more obscure sometimes the more it sticks in your head, one of those inverse laws. Notes strewn even randomly will, with repeated playing , appear to have a pattern. Is the construct in the mind of the listener or in the musician? 1500 words, by Friday.

      A friend who revels in free cacophony often jokes that he almost heard a tune in there, but they quickly got over it.


    • Wayne Shorter was Miles Davis’ best composer. He is not the greatest virtuoso, but he weaves the most amazing music. I dont think the Shorter BN’s are the best sounding records, but the music is astonishing. And he is still doing it, at age 80, pushing the boundaries. Impressionist jazz at its best. The greatest living jazz musician. And the music beats Coltrane and Davis any day. Maybe not Ellington or Mingus


    • Quite so Hugh – many of his Blue Note titles were first released after the sale to Liberty. I didn’t intend to imply they were “reissues”, their 1st press is by Liberty. My beef is some of the later titles I think the pressing is not great – Adams Apple the worst offender – not even Van Gelder, and the mix sounds to me a mess. Schizophrenia (1967) doesn’t sound right to my ear either. What that’s about, who knows.


        • Hi Carlos, looks like people took liberties at Liberty. I have three Liberty “Blue Notes” which have no “Van Gelder” where you would expect to see one. Bit of monkey business must have gone on. In each case, the no-RVG is a lousy mastering/ pressing. You have to ask: why? They had the proper master – thats why yours has Van Gelder. Why knock off another, lousy master?


  4. Go on, LJC, you can add a quarter-star to the envy rating — (a) because it’s worth it, and (b) because you’ve got a birthday coming up. Oh, and (c) because it’s your blog and you can.


  5. Found this cover lurking at my local Oxfam recently priced at £19.99 and excitedly asked to see the record – it was in a locked cupboard. Turns out it was a scuffed all-blue Liberty reissue – that would be charitable. Can honestly say I’ve never heard it before. You gotta love Shorter’s own dates – so full of vitality – and this sounds no exception. Never liked Weather Report though, Envy rating is spot-on.


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