This is one of the most thrilling, exhilarating jazz albums I`ve ever heard.
In 1965 the 32-year old Shorter gathered round him the ultimate dream team of the time: the rightly ubiquitous Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, impeccably tactful McCoy Tyner on piano, superb bassist Ron Carter, restlesssly inventive Tony Williams occupying the drum seat, and the much lesser known James Spaulding taking alto sax duties and soloing like a man possessed. In fact it`s the two saxes that make this date so enthralling. Shorter & Spaulding have quite different approaches yet they complement each other beautifully. (In fact Spaulding`s alto is something I shall make it my business to further seek out.) There`s a palpable sense of excitement running through the whole album, from the great opener Lost into the following edge-of-the-seat trio of Angola, the wonderful The Big Push, and the relentless title track. After such an adrenaline rush the relative balm of Shorter`s lovely tribute, Lady Day, is most welcome.
WS shows his taste by his arrangement of one of the tone poems of Finnish composer Sibelius - strange but apt that both the Finn and the American often wrote oblique music that did not readily yield up its beauties.
I`d have given much to have been able to be in the Van Gelder studio to hear this incredible album recorded (in one day!) and to see the faces of this choice sextet as they made this music, which they surely must have known was something a bit special.
I have a few Wayne Shorter CDs of the period, and they`re all, without exception, essential listening. Difficult to believe this enigmatic musician-composer is now 77 years old. On The Soothsayer, as on all those classic late 50s/60s albums, he sounds forever ageless - like this great music.