Wayne Shorter: Juju (1964) King

UPDATE October 16: added my Liberty reissue labels to the post.

UPDATE October 11: Harry M photos added to foot of post, the young Wayne Shorter, modelling striped pants, very 60s.

Filling in the gaps of records LJC mysteriously missed first time around: Wayne Shorter’s classic Blue Note title: ‘JU JU‘.  I have reviewed Night Dreamer, Speak No Evil, All Seeing Eye, Schizophrenia, and several of the other titles, but a post on ‘Juju’ had been languishing in draft for  several years, based on my first acquired copy, the Japanese King reissue 1978.

Somewhere on my shelves is a late 60’s  Liberty edition with Van Gelder Stereo stamp, which I can’t access right now, (a shoot out  for  later date) , but as a result I never felt the need to go the final NY upgrade, as the Liberty Van Gelder is effectively the same sound, though not the same price.

Imperfect topic post, but The Show Must Go On.Selection: Juju (Numark USB rip)

.  .  .

Juju is a folk magic tradition from West Africa. Juju charms and spells can be used to inflict either bad or good juju, which equate to either bad or good luck” (Wiki). Right now we need all the good juju we can get.


Wayne Shorter, tenor saxophone;  McCoy Tyner, piano; Reggie Workman, bass; Elvin Jones, drums; recorded at Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, August 3, 1964, released the following year in July 1965.


The first reference point for all important albums is often Wikipedia. The Wiki for this title was clearly written by a music student: “The album shows the strong influence of John Coltrane … whose style is reflected here both in performance and composition. On “Juju”, Shorter’s timbre is rather astringent, and his phrases are long and volatile. The distinctive harmonic flavour stems from the heavy use of a B augmented chord and Shorter’s exploration of the related whole-tone scale.”

Well, you could have knocked me down with a diminished seventh. Try to describe the flavor of Coca Cola, or even the shape of the bottle: you have to be very good choosing and arranging words to get even close. ‘ rather astringent timbre’ are the words I would use for the sharp tuning of Jackie Mclean, “Coltrane influences” perhaps, I was OK with, until the B augmented chord.

Music is a funny thing. I know what I hear, without understanding why it is what I hear.  I don’t find the technical deconstruction helpful. More importantly, the emotional connection is missing from the technical description. To my ear, Shorter’s approach is brooding, his tone sour, his phrasing is paced and weighty, contrasted with rapid fire sorties into the mid and  upper register, a pent-up underlying urgency. That’s his music, for me anyway. Shorter’s compositions are distinctive, often based on “short, hypnotic, repetitive phrases“(AllMusic).

Juju showcases the interplay between Shorter and McCoy Tyner, which lends a different dynamic to the interplay between Shorter and Herbie Hancock on three of his other Blue Note albums. Each Shorter album has interesting changes in chemistry, adding Freddy Hubbard on two titles, Lee Morgan on another, two titles add a trombone – Curtis Fuller (Schizophrenia) and Grachan Moncur III (All Seeing Eye).and two with James Spaulding’s alto enriching the horn lines. It is all a richly textured musical canvas.

Vinyl: BST 84182 King Records, Japan, 1978

A hepcat can look at a King, and this is where my budget pointed in the early days, and no doubt many fledgling collectors, Japanese pressings, on the cusp of transition from analog to digital. Some Japanese pressings are OK, some are lack-lustre. None are sonicall  the equal of original US pressings and their immediate descendants pressed with Van Gelder metal.

Reid Miles artful  typography ‘JU JU’, in  block capitals with quotes, neatly dodges the correct capitalisation – is it Juju, juju, JUJU or JU JU, or Ju-Ju (used by Archie Shepp on his Impulse title Magic Of Ju-Ju)? I opt for its folk magic origins, juju, though probably use it inconsistently. Spell-checker, off.

Collectors Corner

It is easy to forget these King reissues are themselves, in this case, over thirty years old. This Shorter album is one of his less sought after titles, according to Popsike, maxing at only $1,000, and considerably less  though never “cheap”: Lurking among the top twenty auctions, which are all mono,  is a “sealed copy”, and a couple in shrink.

In contrast, the King edition max’s at around one tenth of the price, $100, mostly a lot less. It is of course stereo.

Below is the original release on NY labels. This was a high-end auction, with deep groove side 1 and intact shrink. I’m not sure about the authenticity of a shrink from NY May 1965. Shrinks were commonplace on  later Liberty West Coast pressings. It is not that difficult to re-seat a shrink on another album – I’ve done it myself.

UPDATE October 16, 2020: Liberty reissue labels

My own Liberty reissue below, which unusually has Bert-Co printed labels (capitalised SIDE) and pressed with Van Gelder metal rather than the usual malpractice of local remastering from copy tape.

It also looks like the labels for side 1 and side 2 are taken from different print runs, due to the inconsistent tint of the blue ink. Sounds great, and better than the Japanese press by far.

Shorter Blue Note Discography and later Shorter titles

For this post, I am deliberately limiting myself to titles with Shorter as leader, put aside his many session appearances.

Shorter’s Blue Notes are exquisite examples of the post-bop oeuvre. My personal favourite is the later Schizophrenia title (1967), closely followed by the 1965 recording  later released Etcetera (Liberty/ and Tone Poet). Night Dreamer was my most expensive addition, and the best cover art, though I probably play it least. I dipped my  toe into post-Blue Note titles like Super Nova,  and Odyssey Of Iska, but found them strangely unappealing. Am I wrong?  Shorter releases of the 80’s like Atlantis, and Phantom Navigator suffer from very poor presentation on vinyl, certainly in comparison with magnificent 60’s Blue Notes, hopefully I am not being to hard on them. Beyond these, Shorter followed the siren call of The Evil Silver Disc™, out of my scope.

Any favourite Shorter titles out there? Your shout, help others navigate.

UPDATE October 11, 2020:

Harry M has the photos, Wayne Shorter, Antibes, 1969, Elvin Jones, Jazz Expo, 1970



28 thoughts on “Wayne Shorter: Juju (1964) King

  1. Such a beautiful record Wayne Shorter with John Coltrane’s supporting cast made this an instant classic had my dreams come true finding a near mint vinyl in December of 2020 . Yes No blows me away with every listen so many texture excellent compositions .


  2. About 8-9 years ago (roughly) Wayne played at the Barbican. Without much hope I bought my first pressing of Juju and Speak No Evil. At the end of the concert I managed to blague my way to the artist quarters at the back (step 1). Step 2 – getting access to Wayne was more complicated. But I now have two nice signed copies of original albums. That was a class result!


  3. Pingback: JuJu – Wayne Shorter (1965) | Open Door

  4. Wow- 2 for 2 in featuring great titles ! One of Shorter’s many classic BN sides. Who cares about b minor chords and flatted fifths ! Just give me the music baby ! Like Freddie, I first became aware of WS via Art Blakey Ugetsu. A Riverside live from Birdland date c1963. Trivia points: WS is responsible for the solo in Steely Dan- Aja title track. This was an introduction to WS for many listeners in the late 70’s. I recently picked up a copy of Introduce Wayne Shorter on VeeJay (first pressing). WS with Lee Morgan, and the Miles Davis rhythm section: Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb and Wynton Kelly. A very nice Hard Bop session from 1959. Sound is not quite as polished as later dates, and Lee sounds just ok- but that is also a way of saying he sounds better than most. Worth investigating, and the title can be found for much less than BN value.


    • Made a point to listen to my mono 1st pressing of JuJu earlier today. Sublime. So much talent, so much expertise, what great music. If anyone is curious about why BN Mono pressings are revered, JuJu would be a top 10 example.


  5. One of my favorite Shorter album is Second Genesis (Vee Jay). This 1960 session is much overlooked because it was released later in 70’s.
    As for Jazz Messengers recordings, Roots & Herbs has to be mentioned because all the tracks were composed by Shorter. Also, his solo in Nihon Bash from Kyoto (Riverside) is interesting to me. This track is obviously mimicked Coltrane’s Africa Brass.
    After Blue Nore era, a duet with Joe Zawinul in Blackthorn Rose (Mysterious Traveller) is my best favorite track. Native Dancer is also my favorite.


  6. I don’t own any of Wayne Shorter’s classic Blue Note releases, though several are on my want list. Speak No Evil is a favorite. Etcetera is another album I know and enjoy that was recorded in Wayne’s prime Blue Note period but was not released by the label until the 1980s. It and Grant Green’s Matador are two favorites that similarly stayed in the can for about 15 years. Three cheers for the folks who finally decided the market was right for their release.

    Oh, and apart from Wayne Shorter’s terrific Blue Note albums, his VeeJay recordings are certainly worth a listen. Wayning Moments, which I do have in nice original condition, is recommended.


  7. I really like Bobby Timmons’ “The Soul Man!” LP on Prestige from 1966 with Ron Carter and Jimmy Cobb. Shorter is the only horn so you get a lot of him. Three tracks by Carter, two by Timmons and one by Shorter recorded by RVG. This one might be ignored when you only look at the cover and the title. But this is a really great session.


  8. Is it my imagination or is Shorter at his dourest (and sourest) when he is the only horn? I note that the Shorter LPs I am most likely to play are always those where there are other horns in the line-up — Speak No Evil, for example, is a favourite.


  9. Can I quote Duke Ellington on music ,”There are simply two kinds of music, good music and the other kind … the only yardstick by which the result should be judged is simply that of how it sounds. If it sounds good it’s successful; if it doesn’t it has failed.”
    Adam’s Apple is a favourite but I would also mention The Soothsayer from 1965 with Tyner , not issued at the time but worth checking out.
    Going off the reservation a bit for those looking for smooth and silky Wayne try The Barbara Song on The Individualism of Gil Evans and if you want to be blown out of the park try The Summit with Art Blakey , not the Blue Note issue but the France Concert issue at the Olympia March 1961


  10. A lot of my favorite Wayne Shorter is with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers – on KYOTA, INDESTRUCTIBLE, THE WITCH DOCTOR, etc – awesome playing
    Of Shorter’s albums I like ADAM”S APPLE, never could get into SUPER NOVA-era or a lot of his playing with Miles either (although I just listened to Shorter’s “Footprints” on MILES SMILES and it is very good indeed).
    I don’t quite understand the comment “B is a strange note to start on, as it is uncomfortable for almost every instrument” I think concert B would be C# for tenor, which would be the open horn – what’s uncomfortable about that? Maybe musically, but it’s all relative 🙂


    • Concert Bb would be C for tenor, which would be the open horn. Concert B would be C#, which is indeed a much more unusual note to start on.


          • Sorry… I may have misunderstood the term “open horn”. The instrument’s C major scale is Bb major in the case of a tenor. Easy to play. B major (the instrument’s C# major) is tricky. That’s what Gregory meant, I suppose.


          • No, you have to press one key to play your middle C, which on the tenor would then be equivalent to concert B flat, on the alto or baritone, E flat. (the oboe’s C is concert C) I guess we should not use the phrase “open horn” because on the sax, if you don’t press anything, there are many holes covered. Pressing some things opens holes, some closes holes. Just blowing, not pressing anything, gives you the horn’s C sharp, assuming the instrument is “in tune” by adjusting the mouthpiece 🙂


              • So … to quote Doom Girl: “… I think concert B would be C# for tenor, which would be the open horn – what’s uncomfortable about that?” There is nothing uncomfortable about blowing a B (or C#, respectively). But playing in that key would be very much so.


  11. Night Dreamer is my favourite, Speak No Evil second, and Native Dancer third. But there is so much. I consider many of Miles’ great albums (ESP) and several mid sixties Blue Notes as Wayne Shorter albums (Tony Williams’ Spring, Lee Morgan’s Search for the New Land etc). His spirit colours most things he plays on. I would love to see more of his later work on vinyl. His last quartet was magic.


  12. Speak No Evil and Adam’s Apple are my personal favorites, with Night Dreamer a close second. I was encouraged to check out Night Dreamer after your review- thank you for the recommendation!


  13. For me the strength of Wayne Shorter has always been his compositions! His tone is a little bit too sour for my taste! For me it is Night Dreamer or Speak no evil that hits my turntable most frequently.


  14. Wayne Shorter was a great player, as good or better than John Coltrane! It’s Jazz and it’s all different and some people try to over analyze the music when they could never, ever be on the same stage with these giants their selfs!


    • I am intrigued that your opening sentence is the very thing you condemn other for doing in your next sentence. As has been written on here before, it is not a competition, but to reply to you I go with the widely held view that was expressed as a diagram on here once (probably in a Mobley review), on Tenor it’s Coltrane and Rollins and then there’s the rest.


  15. In my opinion, as someone with enough music theory training to apply it to my bass playing and explain a few things, I think theory is helpful when one already knows it, but not otherwise. B is a strange note to start on, as it is uncomfortable for almost every instrument, and augmented chords have a lot of weird tones that their ‘natural’ counterparts don’t have. But that doesn’t mean anything to anyone who isn’t into music theory.

    Oddly, the group I’m in is attempting to work out Shorter’s “Rio” from Lee Morgan’s “The Procrastinator”. It is a 14-bar structure (weird) with every chord requiring a PhD in theoretical physics. Of course, my intermediate theory knowledge is helping me a bit, but since it is a bossa style, I really just need one rhythm and some fifths.


  16. Honestly, understanding the whole tone scale unlocks not only the magic of title track of ‘JuJu’ but lots of other post-bop too, including 1960s Joe Henderson and ‘late’ Tubby Hayes.
    It gives compositions and solos a duality because it moves in a manner that is counter to the normal diatonic rules of popular music. It feels unsettled yet battened down at the same time.


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