Wayne Shorter: Adam’s Apple (1966) Blue Note Classic Vinyl (2022)

Selection: Footprints

.  .  .


A1.  Adam’s Apple 06:52
A2.  502 Blues (Drinkin’ and Drivin’) 06:36
A3.  El Gaucho  06:32
B1.  Footprints  07:31
B2.  Teru 6:10
B3.  Chief Crazy Horse 7:30


Wayne Shorter, tenor saxophone; Herbie Hancock, piano; Reggie Workman, bass; Joe Chambers, drums; recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, February 3 & 24, 1966; released over 20 months later, November 1967, first pressing by Liberty Blue Note .


The old Blue Note record formula – one boogaloo track aimed at radio-play and the charts, one Latin swinger, one ballad, and one for the bop traditionalists – has gone.

 All Music: “Shorter – in quartet – carries most of the melodic and improvisational duties himself, offering a largely undiluted creative portrait. He plays quietly, his tone is measured and relaxed, only bursting into shout for emphasis in a few places, a balanced tension.”

Shorter’s compositions are moody and understated, subtle shifts with lots of space rather than leaps of melodic invention. Hancock works his percussive-discursive magic in the background rather than developing harmonies and countermelodies. Joe Chambers percussion is abstract, colouring rather than timekeeping, while Workman signals the changes underground. 

But there is an elephant in the room.

A few Discogs Commenters: “…Only complaint is Shorter is hard panned to the left channel only and drums are prominent only in the right channel. Gives it an unbalanced sound at times”


 “The imaging is so realistic; my dog was staring at the left speaker wondering how Wayne Shorter got in …”

Yup, that is how Van Gelder recorded it.  I was hoping Kevin Gray would fix the stereo balance, but it’s unchanged. Shorter, hard panned left, and in my judgement too loud relative to the other instruments. By 1966 RVG had stereo totally under control, and this one comes out of the blue. Gray didn’t fix it because it is how Rudy recorded it – Gray’s obligation is fidelity to the original tapes, it’s not his job to change or “correct” Van Gelder’s judgement. 

In the late 50s, hard-panning was a characteristic of Van Gelder recordings, instruments recorded on two-track tape, not intended for stereo.  As the early 60s progressed, the Van Gelder stereo soundstage evolved into a more balanced intended stereo presentation.  Only a few commenters (me included) noted the “unbalanced” presentation here, most never thinking to question the engineer’s judgement, praise the  the music.

During one of my Listening Surgeries with some hi-fi buddies, opinion around the hard-panning was confirmed, but eagle-eyed Man-in-a-(brand new) Shed spotted something in the liner notes:

 Liner Notes credited to Don Heckman, Jazz Editor, American Record Guide

Absence of guitar? Very unexpected observation from a jazz writer. It is not that I was expecting Shorter to bring in a guitarist, but it prompted the thought that possibly the “empty space on the soundstage” may be a studio place and microphone positioned for a sideman who didn’t show up. The session went ahead regardless. The hard-panned position of Shorter on the left channel was characteristic of Van Gelder stereo in 1958, not 1966. Was Shorter expected to be offset by another brass instrument on the right channel? It may also explain a long section in which Hancock comps in a pedestrian manner, also very uncharacteristic, intended to be backing for a solo which didn’t happen.

Shorter is to my ear awkwardly positioned in a quartet session planned to be a quintet.  Of course the 1969 moon landing was faked, Princess Diana’s death was no accident, 9/11 was an inside job, and COVID escaped from a Lab. But a missing Fifth Musician? I’m not given to conspiracy theories… but this album is an odd fish. It doesn’t fit with Van Gelder and Blue Note ways of working at the time.  Perhaps they thought to dub in the missing fifth player at a later date, but it didn’t work out. Maybe Player No 5 had a short-notice conflicting commitment, or an accident on the way to the studio (checks obituary notices) Or maybe LJC has completely lost the plot, a conspiracy theory. I wonder, could I bag a Netflix Exclusive on the tail of this? Or a big budget franchise, Bruce Willis as Van Gelder, Die Hard-Panning.

If you already have an original Adam’s Apple, I’m not convinced that the Classic Vinyl edition adds a lot more to the 1967 stereo edition, but it is mint from new, and not expensive, may just tick your box.

Vinyl: BST 84232 (2022)

Vinyl Classics edition released last year, Universal official, remaster by Kevin Gray, pressed in Germany.

Kevin Gray offers his trademark big, wide soundstage, extending beyond the speakers, with immaculately controlled dynamic and tonal range. It is oddly forensic to my ear, deconstructed rather than unified, a reflection of Van Gelder’s mixing choices, and I am tempted to flick the mono switch. 



Collector’s Corner

The most desirable issues of Shorter’s Adam’s Apple seem to be the rare mono copies, likely issued as “Audition copies” for radio station airplay. (The commercial release is I believe stereo) Liberty issued both mono and stereo copies in East Coast Van Gelder-mastered from original tape and West Coast local remastered from copy tape. The quality of auction pictures is not great, but these salvaged images show important recovered detail. The East Coast copies are VAN GELDER stamped and you can just see the characteristic triple-ring lock groove pre-set of Van Gelder’s Scully lathe reflected in the runout, absent in the West Coast remaster.

Liberty Mono 1967:

Liberty Stereo 1967:

The label print typesetting on the stereo edition has the same East Coast edition, Van Gelder mastered, left, (Keystone label) and a West Coast edition, remastered from copy tape by local Liberty engineer, (Bert-Co printed label)

Personally, I favour mono on this recording to get rid of that disturbing hard panning. It disturbs me, but others seem quite happy with it, you hear what you hear, you like what you like.

My west coast non-Van Gelder master sounds harsher, Kevin Gray’s a little more mellow, and a little more satisfying performance.  I should have got the original Van Gelder, or indeed the rarer mono Van Gelder (promo?), but was not aware of the differences at the time, a difference conveniently below most seller’s radar.

Blue Note Vinyl Classics 2022 – contrast the run-out width!

 As was usual at the time, Liberty cut the groove area the full width of the vinyl. Kevin Gray’s remaster has his usual stacking music grooves towards the outer edge of the vinyl, avoiding the central area of the disc, where tracking is more problematic (allegedly, for lesser equipment). Compare runout, the same length of music: 

Shoot-out! 1967 vs 2022

Judge for yourself (headphones recommended) you can flip from one to the other, at the same point in the music – the volume settings were the same for each rip, any differences are in the engineering i e  one is louder than the other, because it is cut louder. bassicaly I set the gain to keep the peaks just within the clipping point, and left at the same level for each rip.

Footprints (1967) Liberty west coast stereo edition, no Van Gelder, local remaster from copy tapes

.  .  .

Footprints (2022) Blue Note Classic Vinyl: Kevin Gray remaster from OG tapes.

.  .  .

55 years later, can you tell the difference, which twin has the Toni? Any observations welcome – on the music, not the perm, obviously.

Let’s kick off the New Year with some controversy: The Missing Fifth Musician.  The perm on the left knows something, the answer to the riddle of the 5th musician. But she’s not saying. Maybe his name was …Toni.

Adam’s Apple:  have I lost the Plot? Indeed, did I ever have it? Happy New Year (again), and back on track with a Friday post. What’s going to be up next Friday? Don’t know, but don’t touch that dial!


UPDATED Jan 7, 2023: Listen up peoples, Joe Harley speaks, LJC Listens.

The popular Disc Union/ Japan-only mono DBPL edition is remastered from original tapes digital 96/44 files, supplied from within Japan (source confirmed by Joe Harley). “From The Original Master Tapes” does not mean mastered from original tape, but from a digital copy of the master tape.

It is an important difference, because of what is lost in the copying process to digital, and further lost in remastering the digital copy back onto vinyl. 

Repeat: a copy of a copy, is not a copy of an original. 

The promotional documentation of the 62 DBPL Editions (2013-5) says they are “from the original master tapes” (as is every copy), and I read the embellishment that they were remastered by Kevin Gray, pressed in the US,  and shipped exclusively to Japan, in a Disc Union joint venture.  A good story, which turns out untrue but what parts of the story are untrue?

We know Bernie Grundman carried out an industrial-scale digitisation of the Blue Note catalogue in the late teens, a permanent archive, and that these hi-res digital files were the source of the unhappy 75th Anniversary budget editions.  That digital source was created some years after the DBPL series was issued (2013-5). Did Kevin Gray create earlier digital files for this series? More to the point, mono editions of titles more usually seen in stereo? Are there older hi-res digital files circulating in Japan, nothing do do with Kevin Gray remastering?  Were they fashioned in Japan from historic copy tapes, or fresh digital masters from original tapes? Transferred by whom? So many unanswered questions.

Its a tangled web, laced with partial truths and downright fibs. I guess that is the Music Business.


20 thoughts on “Wayne Shorter: Adam’s Apple (1966) Blue Note Classic Vinyl (2022)

  1. LJC,

    TOTALLY disagree. This is a STUNNING reissue. One of KG’s best reissues from his good old home crib to date. Prefect, perfect!


  2. Thanks for the Adam’s Apple post.. excellent reason to listen (doing that now!) to my copy again.. a white-B mid-Seventies reissue, mind you. Yes: prominent Shorter-saxophone on the left… but admittedly doesn’t feel too un-balanced to my taste.
    And about taste: this record is among my favorites! calling it ‘surprisingly bland’ (comment above) is certainly a matter of taste, since on re-listen I still find this a surprisingly understated and exciting record… maybe even worth an ‘upgrade’.


  3. Great post again as usual. However I’m with those that don’t understand the presentation issue you have; sounds like a typical RVG recording to me.

    FWIW I used a SPM to check the levels as the Liberty struck me a noticeably louder and obviously therefore, more impressive. Interestingly playing the first 42 seconds on each, the peak volume was 0.1 dB different but the average was 3dB louder on the Liberty! That’s what my ears were telling me. Adjusting the volume made the two more similar albeit louder peak volume on the Classic.


      • I understand the point you make, RGV used compression whereas KG does not but the average output measured 3dB higher, only the absolute peak during that passage matched which could have been only one small moment. I assume LJC matched by peak therefore.


      • I’m not saying there is anything wrong with your cut Joe, just that it is difficult to compare those two files as presented as there is always going to be a ‘perceived’ dynamic advantage to the louder one on a a-b comparison. Still, it inspired me to pull out my MMJ 45 and play the whole album; everyone’s a winner :-))

        Liked by 1 person

  4. To me, the one and only “Footprints” is the one Wayne recorded with Miles later that same year. In comparison, this first version sounds kind of “bland”, to quote DG above.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I also have an original Van Gelder East Coast mono – and it does not have any promo stamps or audition copy for radio station wording. It looks like a commercial copy to me.

      As for the mono vs. stereo debate: my preference is very much for the mono when it comes to tenor-led quartets. Some years ago I bought a stereo first pressing of Giant Steps. it’s in absolutely lovely condition but the sound of Coltrane being hard-panned to one channel is very disconcerting and I’d still love to find a black label mono. Of course, it’s rare that we get the opportunity for the luxury of choice between mono and stereo copies and, for example, I’m perfectly happy with my original stereo pressing of Tyner’s The Real McCoy – another tenor plus rhythm section date – where Henderson sounds terrific.

      I’m not a mono fundamentalist though. It’s horses for courses. On those occasions where Rudy recorded larger groups (sextets and up) my preference is for the stereo. For example, I did actually have the luxury of choice between mono and stereo original pressings of Morgan’s Search For The New Land and I went for the stereo and never looked back with any regrets.


  5. Your criticism of the Stereo presentation I have heard many times from many people… but I don’t understand it or have an inkling as to what the imagined ideal is… besides just listening to a mono record. All it is… is this player is sitting over here… and this one is over here. What exactly is so unnatural about that? I can understand if the channels are ghostly or otherwise buggered up and totally detached from one another but with RVG stereo that is simply not the case. Sure…they vary in total quality from session to session but never “bad”

    Rudy never put the horns in the center of the stage for this format of group. Ever (that I can recall) Not for Lee Morgan, John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, anyone.

    He had a formula that he stuck to. Sax left, piano and bass middle, drums and trumpet right. That’s what you’re going to get. No engineer is going to try and pan the instruments differently. There is nothing to “fix”

    I just don’t understand this trying different pressings, hoping that the presentation is somehow miraculously going to be different. It’s just the way Rudy recorded it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have an original Liberty, stereo, East Coast, Van Gelder stamped ADAM’S APPLE, still an “almost virgin” simply because I find it to be a surprisingly bland album, given the quality of the musicians, not rewarding repeated listening and thus slumbering for decades, nestled between Shepp and Silver. Your choice, “Footprints,” is probably my favorite cut on the album.

    My personal opinion of the music aside, I found some of the comments and quotes in your review surprising, especially the emphasis on the stereo effect. To my ear, there is simply not the stark separation you and others describe. In fact the two channels miraculously blend together to give an almost magical effect of being in the room with the musicians. Perhaps this is due to the (secret) ways I tweak my system and the fact that I usually listen to vinyl in a relatively small room with the speakers rather close together. I have never listened to the album with earphones; perhaps that would give the effects you and others describe.

    The notion of a missing musician seems untenable to me, like something from one of Chesterton’s Father Brown stories. Perhaps his name was Hercule Flambeau.


  7. I’ve had Liberty West Coast 1967 w/out RVG and this hard panning and unbalanced volume (Shorter vs Band) was driving me crazy.. Since that is one of my favorites from Blue Note I went on a hunt to search for best copy. I was comparing this liberty 67 with Japan King edition and classic series and for now I stick to King and classic, I would love to see how Music Matters and OG mono sounds, any copy where Shorter plays at the same volume as rest of the band will be my treasure. LJC thank You for this post!


    • I have occasionally come across a stereo album where the sound is grossly unbalanced and a lead instrument is lost among the sound of supporting players. For me, the most extreme and frustrating example of this was Charles Lloyd’s DREAM WEAVER album on Atlantic, where the sound of the tenor sax is nearly obliterated by Jarett’s piano and DeJohnette’s drums. Like you, I vainly searched for an alternative – in later years, even for a CD, with a better sound, where I could hear Lloyd better. So I understand and sympathise with what you write.
      However, for me at least, Shorter’s ADAM”S APPLE is not such an album. I find the sound of the original quite good, perfectly acceptable, as noted in my other post. Is it possible that there are defective copies of certain albums which differ from others?


  8. Couple of things: this recording, as well as all RVG recordings up until mid 1968 are live-to-two track, meaning there is no possibility of overdubs later. There is no multi-track master. This master tape, like all RVG masters from this era, has the notation “Mo Master made 50/50 from Stereo”. If you would like to hear this in mono, use the mono button, if your electronics allow this. You mention the mono version from Japan. These are not, in fact sourced from the original masters. The sources for this series was 24/96 files supplied from BN in Japan, presumably taken from the copy tapes that have resided in Japan for many years.


    • Hi Joe, love the work you’re doing with the Tone Poet series. To confirm, you are saying the Disc Union DBLP Editions are all from 24/96 files supplied from BN in Japan?


        • Interesting…but also disappointing! There was a post by user “gubarenko” on the SHforum that CLAIMED he was quoting from an email from Kevin he received in regards to the DBLP Monos saying:
          Kevin answered my email about master tapes and digital files, and he says they are from master tapes.

          “I don’t know where that rumor got started, I’ve seen it too, but it’s FALSE!!!”
          (end quote)

          I realize that you have to take things you read on SHforum with a grain of salt but the blue Obi that came with these states “From the original Master tapes”. Which I know now doesn’t necessarily mean anything (MOFI) but this wouldn’t just be marketing exaggeration but a downright lie on the part of EMI Japan/Disk Union.

          I’ll admit I do like the sound & cover quality of the Disk Union releases, despite this information.



          • “From the original master tapes” is often used. A CD could state this since, in one respect, the sound contained on it is from the master from a forensic standpoint. The DBLPs were cut from high-res digital files supplied by Japan. That doesn’t make them bad.


  9. Context! The guitar reference relates to the bossa nova track on the album, bossa being a guitar based music and, up to that time, one recorded most often with a guitar in the rhythm section (Getz, Rollins, Desmond, Zoot, Mulligan et al).

    Rudy Van Gelder wasn’t a greenhorn as far as balance was concerned and most certainly wouldn’t have left an empty audio space out of sheer laziness.

    Supposition, your honour!


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