Wayne Shorter: The Collector (1965/6) King Records 1980


Selection: Etcetera


Wayne Shorter (tenor saxophone) Herbie Hancock (piano) Cecil McBee or Reggie Workman  (bass) Joe Chambers (drums) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, June 14, 1965 and February 24, 1966

1966Shorter recording with Miles – ESP and the formative Plugged Nickel sessions –  and recording for Blue Note, both in combination with Hancock. Together they shake off the last remnants of bop and swing to define a new direction, post-bop.

Davis’ second great quintet, half of whom are present here, were responsible for six albums that encompass the post bop genre, and The Collector fits well into the early sequence, of course sans-Miles : E.S.P. (1965), Miles Smiles (1967), The Sorcerer (1967), Nefertiti , Miles In The Sky, and Filles De Kilimanjaro (all 1968).

♪♫♪ Music

Understatement and looseness is the beauty of this music.  Shorter’s bitter, downbeat melodies insinuate their way into your consciousness, not so much tunes as slowly unfolding melodic canvas. In solo, he is Coltrane-framed, but more energetic in connecting the dots than some other of his more stripped-down work.

Hancock rewrites the role of piano accompaniment, freed from merely delivering the changes, no longer  a backdrop of rhythmic accents, but an interloper in the harmonic progression of the ensemble, listening closely for emerging ideas, will-o-the-wisp, fleetingly amplifying and developing them further, before picking up the next emerging thread,  weaving it into the spider’s web.

Fragments of suspended time and direction, air and space, tonal colouring, – these are the fruit of the rhythmic  independence of percussion freed from keeping time. Anthony Williams went on to realise this more fully for Miles, but Joe Chambers was more than half way there.

Of all the instruments, the bass acts as more the final custodian of the piece, though it too has freedom to operate in the upper register, adding tonal textures and contrasts as well as the supporting harmonic floor. The very capable Cecil McBee or Reggie Workman here, though Ron Carter was Davis’s natural choice, his supple bass maintaining momentum while  tiptoeing  into any open spaces.

These two recording sessions fell off the Blue Note release schedule, I would guess due to the impending sale of Blue Note to Liberty, rather than any perceived issues with the music.  Alfred Lion had a lot more on his agenda than to be midwife to post-Bop, a mantle thankfully taken up by Columbia.

A  number of important formative post-Bop  recordings remained in the Blue Note vaults, until unearthed by Michael Cuscuna in the twilight years of United Artists, and granted a second life by King for the all-consuming appetite of Japanese jazz enthusiasts.

◙  Vinyl: GXK 8153 King Records, Japan (1980)

Alternative: United Artists edition, which I avoid like the plague.Blue Note LT-1056

220px-Etcetera[1]I bought a dozen or so of the LT series United Artists before the penny dropped that they were sonically deeply unpleasant, which is a shame, since they offer mainly unissued material from the Blue Note vaults and deserved better production. King engineers have I think done Van Gelder’s  recording  justice. It has a power and the majesty that commands your attention, where United Artists finds you noticing the ceiling needs repainting soon.

In fairness, it should be said that King have been known to produce some fairly anodyne  transfers with rolled off top-end and weak presentation, while UA engineers did on occasions pull off some amazing transfers, notably in the twofer series. But my general impression of the LT series is that something was fundamentally wrong in the way they were done. What King achieve here is fundamentally right, retaining the hallmark Van Gelder sound and presentation, without trying to improve it or introduce more problems to mask lesser problems.



Collector’s Corner

The mid ’60s was a particularly fertile period of the evolution of jazz, and worthy of the attention of collectors. Intrinsically good music, all of the tracks here are interesting, and spend a good amount of time on the LJC turntable (which is sounding particularly fine at this moment, since a certain key cable modification, more hi-fi voodoo)

LJC-Michael-Caine- Professor Jazz fastshow30People sometimes ask me which year I think  was the most import in the development of jazz. Usually I plump for 1959, though I think 1965 a close run thing, or may be even 1956 at a pinch, all for different reasons.

However a pingback (no idea what function they perform) on one of my pages from a fellow WordPress blogger, NighthawkNYC “I Hate The Grammys”  (linked, a good rant, I enjoyed it) prompted me to think, why all of  those years, 1956-65 and shades either side are so much more interesting  than the media-fawning prize-giving celeb-infestation of today. I paused to think, and I thought may be I should have rant too. If you’ve got a minute, pull up a soapbox and sit down.

Jazz musicians came mostly from modest, unpromising even no-account backgrounds. They invariably started young, and grew their talents by hard practice. They were tested through a ruthless process of natural selection by which only the best were pulled up on board. No-one got a place in a Miles quintet or with Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, a contract with Blue Note, Prestige or Impulse  because of their family connections, because they were a celebrities son,  to make up a diversity quota, or because of their looks. The only ticket of entry was the ability to play better than their peers. .

The result is music borne out of extraordinary highly concentrated ability: ability to create music with spontaneity, energy, that swings, that excites, that explores, that satisfies, that communicates emotions, that dazzles our listening senses. That is the process which brought about the magic of Davis, Shorter, Hancock, Carter, Williams.

The motive of money, which appears to account for a lot of Grammy behaviour, is strangely ambiguous. Though prompted by the need to make money, if only to pay for the next fix, hardly any musicians (aside from Miles) made even a modest amount out of playing Jazz.

It was in the process of making music rather than money, as a group enterprise, that musicians came alive, had a purpose, that fulfilled them, and that offers us something we can share and enjoy too, today.

As Blakey I think said, Jazz washes away the dirt of everyday life. But in addition to its cleansing properties,  there is something spiritually nutritious in jazz. It is a rich seam, it is impossible to run out of, there is always something to find, to discover, to rediscover, to make new connections, find new pleasures. Yet if you turn on your TV, scan the news headlines, turn on the entertainment media, it doesn’t exist.

May be it’s better that way. We don’t have to share, it can be our secret.

ljc-quiz5-NEWThough borrowing from the example of Kanye West and the Kardashians,  it did occur to me there might be some potential for an exclusive LJC Clothing Line –  the signature brown striped blazer, maroon polyester polo necks,  a range of funky medallions in a choice of precious metal finishes. I think it could attract a lot of followers on Twitter and Facebook.

Money can be cool, no?

In passing, I LJC has just crossed the two million page views milestone. That means it takes just over four years to get the number of hit these celebs get in a few days. Do not adjust your mind, it’s reality that’s at fault.








31 thoughts on “Wayne Shorter: The Collector (1965/6) King Records 1980

  1. I played my cheap ‘n nasty version at the w/e and it sounded marvellous and is a terrific record. One thing no one has commented on, however, and which i have only just noticed is that Barracudas – unless I am very mistaken — is the same as Time of the Barracudas recorded just eleven months earlier with Gil Evans and released on THE INDIVIDUALISM OF… Yes?

    • I don’t think it’s the same version. The “Collector” version runs 11:07 (Discogs) while the “Individualism” version, from 1964, is 7:26. There is one more on “The Complete Columbia … of Miles Davis and Gil Evans” which is 12:45 and was recorded in 1963, I think. They are all different. Personnel is different too (Elvin Jones/Tony Williams/Joe Chambers).

      • Yes, my lack of clarity, sorry. I didn’t mean they are “the same”, because they aren’t. I meant it’s the same tune… I think. Presumably written by Shorter?

        • On the “Individualism” disc, the credits go to “Gil Evans/Miles Davis”. As for the latter, you can never be sure. Just think of “Solar” and “Milestones” (old version, with Bird on tenor). Miles had a way of calling so many things his own.

  2. The qualifications to play among the top tier of New York City jazz musicians hasn’t changed. A corporate lawyer, family connections or bling won’t secure a spot at Smalls, the Village Vanguard, Jazz Standard or Bar 55. You still need the technique and talent. Just sayin.

    • My UK UA issue of the LT series version sounds amazing – which surprised me when I listened to it last night, as the cover is printed on such cheap card that it makes the awful designs seem even worse. Sounds like a proper Blue Note session.
      I just dug out my King copy of the Soothsayer and it sounds like something has gone badly wrong. There is no warmth or depth to the rhythm section, in the drums are hardly there, whilst the frontline are rather too up front. Back to the CD on that one I think.

  3. I am a lucky man, i have bought Etcetera in Roma twenty years in vinyl version (there was some Connoisseur titles in these days in the shop), and then the japanese version from one online retailer shop in Paris-France at one corner….Prior to the absurd rising of lp’s prices…

  4. BTW – if anyone is interested there are a few copies on eBay. The only problem they are in Japan and sort of expensive. I haven’t bought anything from Japan in years. This may be the time I have to cross the pond to satisfy my collector’s jones.

  5. I too have an LT edition of Etcetera, and absolutely hate the vinyl, but love the music. I have not played it for years because the vinyl does not track well (because it is cheap, cheap, cheap). Those little moments in the vinyl when you hear the stylus skipping through a bad press is just so annoying – it takes away from the enjoyment of the music.

    I did listen to my copy again last night to confirm my suspicions that the vinyl was corrupt – conclusion – the vinyl is junk.

    I will be removing it from my collection all together once I find a quality copy. I also listened to Etcetera on my streaming audio service via Tidal using a Lumin player, and the music is fabulous – with no annoying skipping and hiccups from a badly pressed LP.

    • I hate these cheap LT series, but love my copy of Etcetera. There is nothing wrong with it, esp. at a purchase price of a couple of bucks.

  6. I’ve had the LT edition of Etcetera for years and have have not been offended by the sound, perhaps again demonstrating that good music can overcome questionable sound quality. Chambers is a real joy on this recording. While listening to Chambers’ solo on the cut in this post, it brought to mind Tony Williams playing, although Williams gave the impression of soloing throughout a composition.

  7. I have always thought of music using the vitamin analogy. I feel like listening to lots of music improves my health. I always listen to music if the setting allows it, and sometimes when the setting does not. I worry that I have some ocd behavior towards music, especially jazz. But it doesn’t affect my ability to function and I am very happy, so whatever. As for celebrity culture, it is what it is. You can’t avoid it, and I don’t begrudge anyone their enjoyment of certain things. At least I try not to (Dave brubeck).

  8. Etcetera — what a terrific track. My copy — almost needless to say — is the “avoid like the plague” (registered trademark LJC) version, but to my (unreliable) ears it has always sounded pretty good, and this churning, oblique stuff is amongst the best Shorter ever did, in my opinion. A timely reminder to look it out and play it this weekend, which I will do.

  9. “The collector” is the bonus track on the recent (and fine sounding) Japanese SHM CD reissue of “Adam’s Apple”. The recent Japanese CD reissue of “etcetera” also sounds great.

    Just last week I picked up a mint King LP of “the soothsayer” which is also a fantastic session!

  10. Ah Andy, rant away! I think we, your devoted readership, will be nodding our heads in agreement. Your timing with this selection is perfect what with it appearing the day before I come to London to see Shorter live at the Barbican. I’ve been revving up for the gig by listening to the second great Davis quintet this weekend. In particular ESP and Miles Smiles on Columbia two-eye pressings. While doing so, I have wrestled with how I would describe the group’s music: post-bop seems too easy a phrase to reach for. I enjoyed your description, especially that bit about “fragments of suspended time and direction, air and space, tonal colouring”. For me it’s almost as though the concept of solos by individual instruments evaporated to be replaced by ebb and flow as each member of the group shifts into and out of the listener’s focus. What Shorter, Hancock and the rest did was to make such a difficult art appear so deceptively simple.

    It was also nice to see you give the thumbs up to Joe Chambers. At the time of this recording, he was a key figure in the so-called New Thing – both as a drummer and composer. He had a close association with Bobby Hutcherson and, through that, with Hancock too. All of which leads neatly on to your comparison of LT series pressings with King pressings. I deliberately sought out the King pressings of Grant Green’s Solid and Nigeria over the LT series. Not only do I consider the sound to be better but (and I know this is shallow) the King cover art beats the pants off the LT series. I’m still on the prowl for King pressings of Hutcherson’s Spiral and Patterns (among others).

  11. Always considered Etcetera to be the main release as it’s all sourced from the same session. I have the LT pressing which sounds fantastic to my ears, well worth tracking down. Have quite a lot of LTs in my collection, great music & mostly very decent sound quality, just pity about the cover design

  12. Thank you for the rant… I too have been thinking about the supremacy of late 50 and early 60s jazz. In addition to the competition factor mentioned, I think we have to look at the historical context of Jazz being Americas music up until Elvis and the British invasion. All the best musicians aspired to play jazz. Doubly true of Afro Americans men who had so much limited economic and artistic opportunity. Afterwards the youngsters played soul, funk, blues and Rock and roll. It’s a bit like baseball today..sorry to my friends accross the pond. Where are the great African American players of an earlier era Willie Mays, McCovey, Stargell, Regggie Jackson, Frank Robinson, Bob Gibson, Jackie Robinson, etc. Why they are playing basketball and football. Think Steff Curry and Russel Wilson….

    But i digress. We must also look at the times and the fantastic energy created. Certainly the Civil rights movement with MLK and Kennedy era should not be overlooked as well…..

  13. Good call – I have “Etcetera” and it’s a really great spin. I’ve never had any issue with the sound quality of those 80s BN vault releases, but I’ve always played them on a poor man’s setup. I grab them up whenever I can because usually the material is top notch (Grant Green’s “Solid” comes to mind – found recently, unbelievably good) and the prices are usually cheap because of the awful cover artwork – an attempt to fuse the trademark look of both CTI and ECM albums, I always felt. Which is ridiculous on many levels. Nevertheless. Playing your selection now – sounds great! Good one.

      • I’m a huge Green fan (like all of us I’m sure) but I hadn’t heard Solid until I found it recently. It is rapidly moving up the list of favorites. Hearing him with that band stretch out on George Russell and Joe Henderson songs is really something and underlines what an amazing and versitile player he was; despite the one-note style. His stuff with Sonny Clark is timeless too. But Idle Moments still takes the crown for me too. Also Lou Donaldson’s “Natural Soul” LP is up there too, for sentimental reasons. That’s the record that introduced me to Green. His bop trio session “Remembering” is essential too. Anyways. Great stuff; nothing better.

  14. The problem for us Shorter fans is that “The Collector” and “Etcetera” are not identical. Etcetera contains a really interesting track called “Toy Tune” but omits the title track from “the Collector”, which is missing from the King issue. My understanding is that the 1995 vinyl issue of Etcetera is quite good–I have the collector on King but not etcetera.

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