Wayne Shorter: All Seeing Eye (1965) Blue Note


Selection: Chaos (Shorter)




Freddie Hubbard (t, flh) Alan Shorter (flh) Grachan Moncur III (trb) James Spaulding (as) Wayne Shorter (ts) Herbie Hancock (p) Ron Carter (b) Joe Chambers (d)  recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, October 15, 1965

Year: 1965

1965Nov 9: six states including New York are hit by power system failure, leaving 30 million people without electricity for up to 13 hours, causing total chaos. Since the switchover in 2015 to secure clean renewable energy, such brief outages –  now routine –  are referred to as the good old days.


The All Seeing Eye was arguably the most avant-garde of Shorter’s eleven albums for Blue Note.  An octet, with a four-horn frontline, develops dense layered harmonies and textures in an ambitious depiction of “the meaning of life, existence and the nature of God and the universe”.

The selection Chaos was intended to reflect, in Shorter’s word, “wars, disagreements and the difficulty men have in understanding each other”. These typically Sixties grand themes were  framed in the context of the Cold War and its various manifestations, seen through a musician’s eyes simply as “conflict”, for which dissonance in sound was the perfect metaphor. Equally, the Sixties were heavy on “literary explanations” which are in no way necessary to enjoyment of the music, which has its own value independently. Aside from the chaos of wars, a different variety of chaos resulting from New York’s power cuts which occurred just one month after this recording.

During his musical journey of four years with the Jazz  Messengers and six years with the Miles Davis Quintet, Shorter’s choice of notes becomes progressively more spare, painting an increasingly atonal avant garde canvas in a series of albums for Blue Note. In 1970 Shorter morphed into Weather Report, climbing on board the Jazz Rock train, and disappeared into the future. Surprising to the last, Shorter re-emerged in 2013 at the age of eighty, with his first Blue Note album in 43 years, titled Without a Net, a fitting description of his approach to creating music, balancing on a tightrope.

This music belongs the magic realm where jazz becomes what the critic Whitney Balliett (of whom I am well-known to be a long-standing admirer) once called “the sound of surprise”. In a swipe more against jazz critics, another jazz critic wrote of this album:

You could call the music avant-garde, except it seems more thoughtful than that.    (1)


Vinyl: BLP 4219 one of the Van Gogh’s:  earless Van Gelders on Blue Note NY labelsVan-Gelder-Gogh

A backlog of around forty Blue Note titles, mostly recorded in 1965 and prepared awaiting release, were  acquired by Liberty in 1966. These recordings, most already mastered by van Gelder, included several significant Wayne Shorter titles. Released for the first time by Liberty, they feature Blue Note NY address labels and covers, van Gelder  stamp, but without the telltale Plastylite ”ear”. Pressed by Liberty’s NJ plant AllDisc, they are sonically the equal of Plastylite Blue Notes of the NY period. Some later Shorter releases by Liberty were not so fortunate.

Mono Edition


Stereo Edition


4219 LNR MR

Collectors’ Corner




Source: London record store, since closed.

ljc dunce 120pxThere are good reasons for some records to be owned in both mono and stereo editions, but the circumstances here were not so noble. I chanced on the Shorter in a record store, and snapped it up, only to discover on getting home that I already had it. I am sure none of you have ever done anything so stupid, but it taught me the importance of carrying a hard copy of the collection data on shopping excursions, and keeping it up to date.

You can not rely on memory once the size of collection grows beyond a certain point, in my case, probably around ten. In this case the blow was softened by discovery that what I thought was a duplicate was a different edition.

Now I can listen to Chaos in either mono or stereo. How organised is that?

LJC’s  jazz db

Here is what I keep for each record, one line per record in an Excel datasheet.

Jazz DB2

Note I do not grade cover or vinyl for the db, because I can see it by looking at it and everything bar the odd one or two is VG positive or better. All columns have count formula in a top-level dashboard, so I have a running total of expenditure, count the number of Japanese pressings, anything I want to know or find. The datasheet also runs the alphabetic filing list by artist surname for the location of the actual record in the IKEA cabinets, not filed by record label like some like to do, or worse, by first name.

This formula inverts artists first and last name say in cell A1, turning natural text Art Pepper into Pepper, Art 

=RIGHT(A1,LEN(A1)-FIND(” “,A1,1))&”, “&LEFT(A1,FIND(” “,A1)-1)

Of course you all knew this. If not, try it. Open an Excel worksheet, Type Art Pepper in Cell A1 and paste the above formula into the next adjacent cell, B1. The formula works with any musician with a first and last name, but only two names, as it is based on finding the single space between the two.  I leave out any line up designation eg “quartet” and the indefinite article “The”. It’s smart but not that smart. It’s just a tool for organising.

The latest copy of the db is uploaded to Google-drive so I can pick it up from anywhere on the planet, or further away if necessary. This  is what a page looks like –

Jazz db Page

Notice shading alternate lines to reduce read-across errors, just one of many additional functions courtesy of Bastien Mensink’s marvellous essential free Excel Add-in  ASAP utilities

Not so dumb now, eh?

18 thoughts on “Wayne Shorter: All Seeing Eye (1965) Blue Note

  1. I realize I’m a little late with my comments but I recently bought a Japanese “King” promo of “The All seeing Eye.” It sounds spectacular and is very close to mint condition. I honestly like the sound better than some of my American stereo “Blue Notes.” It was rather on the expensive side, especially with shipping.

    • This is a tough call. Mostly, originals are more articulate and punchy, but often suffer collateral damage from record players and their owners fifty years ago. Japanese are sweet if restrained. But nothing is consistent, something always comes along that stands things on their head. I like vintage Toshiba, but I was playing my Horace Silver Further Explorations the other day and it’s horrid – top rolled off, dead, lifeless, awful transfer. What gives? I don’t know. There is no solid ground here. Your King may trump my original, for reasons we will never know. There are general rules, but at the end of the day, trust only your ears.

  2. I luck up land found a mono All Seeing Eye the bottom of the cover water damage record is near mint. The most I listen certain nuances make this a an instant classic. I try to grab as many mono blue notes I come across I can afford.

  3. I started buying jazz on CD in the early nineties, Blue Train by Coltrane being the first – a ‘regular’ reissue on CD. Shorter’s The All Seeing Eye came a bit later, also reissued on Blue Note, but as part of the ‘Connoisseur’ series. When you’re in the early stages of ‘getting’ jazz, like I was back then, The All Seeing Eye is a real tour de force. Now, two decades further down the road, I enjoy listening to it and what I like most about it, is the slightly mysterious undertone you ‘feel’ throughout the album. Catch my drift? 😉

    • I totally catch your drift. I have two Mono’s here, and will get more. Problem of such a great record is that it has been played lots. Hard to get a clean copy. I have used ultrasonic cleaning etc. But such an amazing record between the crackles. Nearly at the end of side 2 and i already feel ‘Heimweh’ knowing this record will be over in a moment. Maybe I should play it again?

  4. I’ve been using Google spreadsheet with similar fields. I liked Google because of the portability, but to be honest when you have thousands of records it’s really slow and hard to find anything from your phone or tablet. So I searched for a nice mobile app and have been very happy with Mystuff2, which at the moment only support iOS devices. It’s fast, looks great and very flexible, although needs some learning as it provides lots of customizations.

    I liked it so much that I’ve ditched my Google spreadsheets after importing them and started adding cover photos and screenshots of interesting materials to each entry – a time consuming but rewarding process.

    Now, when I am browsing at a vinyl shop, I can always take out my iPhone and do a quick search – no more dups!! All I want now is an Android version, which they are supposedly working on.

    Disclaimer: For the record I have no relations with Mystuff2, in fact I work for Google so go figure:-)

    • Hi Ted, Google eh? How’s your tax return coming along? 😉 Supposed big story here, but I don’t understand why companies have to pay tax at all. They can’t vote, can they?

      A good solution, though I carry only what they call a “feature phone”, its main feature being you can use it as a telephone. Call me old-fashioned.

      I love paper. Costs next to nothing, (especially if you fill up at the office), grows on trees, no data or roaming charges, no batteries to run out, and you can write on the back. Its the next big thing, paper, trust me.

      • I am actually a big fan of paper, too! It is indeed much quicker to look up, just harder to maintain.

        The fact is, I live in Korea and we have no vinyl shops with good collections. So I usually buy vinyls when I’m traveling in US or Japan and it’s a big hassle to carry big stack of papers. Not to mention it is kind of awkward to take them out while browsing:-)

  5. The Jazz Police are on the way. There’s been a tip-off that instead of musical arcana, dashing cynical wit and vinyl pressing obscura, illicit Excel spreadsheet tutorials are being dish up!

  6. I started down the excel route but bought Catraxx (http://www.catraxx.com/). What I like about it is that it goes out to Amazon and Discogs and searches for album cover pix and track listing and populates the database with that information. I have to usually clean up the release data as it is based on CDs or later releases. Of course it has every possible data field built in plus allows you to customize with additional information you want.

    I then export the data to excel and keep that file on my phone and Dropbox.

    Worth a look.

    • Based on The Evil Silver Disk?! Dave, its got bonus tracks included in the track list. Say thirty Hail Rudys as penance!

      (I’ll have a look, of course)

    • If you are very brave, Xavier, you could include the full matrix code for both side A and side B. I didn’t include it when I started out and now wish I had. All those Decca Engineer codes, the re-mastered A-1 Blue Notes, The Philips country codes, the Columbia cutting number – there’s a wealth of interesting stuff buried in that vinyl.

      • Nice idea! Just add them to the database. Fortunately, I’ve only got 30 jazz records. But still growing…

  7. I love interesting groups of this size, perhaps 6-9. If the arrangements are interesting and not creamy, that sized band can seriously cook. For example, James Moody’s mid-50s septet put out some terrific records on Prestige (and one seriously great one on Argo, “Cookin the Blues”). I think the rich backing makes All Seeing Eye a more interesting record than it might have been as a quartet recording.

  8. in the past I used to bring an amanuensis catalogue of all my records all over the world.
    once I forgot it in a Baltimora shop and noticed while on a train to Washington.
    what to do? I had that only one copy!
    getting mad or going back?
    my gentle wife proposed to call the shop and have it back by post.
    sure? when?
    I got back and reached an important party in DC very late, but I could get on breathing.
    now: I’ve all my data on Mac, one is always with me, IPhone, multiple IPads.
    you should kill me to leave me without all I need ’round the world.

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