This exceedingly fine offering was recorded way back in 1967, although I have only come to it recently.
Saxophonist/composer Shorter is joined by Coltrane regulars McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones and sometimes Coltranist Reggie Workman .
The hugely impressive opening JuJu features a haunting, theme over a highly propulsive rythm section. Tyner’s solo leads into a fantastic, hypnotic, passionate long wail from the leader.
Deluge too is another strong piece with more controlled passion from Shorters sax.House Of Jade is a ballad from a lovely theme from Mrs Shorter apparently. It again features some restrained, beautiful playing from Shorter. The delightful Mahjong could have been a Coltrane tune. Whereas Coltranes playing is searching ever outwards, Shorters seems to be more introspective, I feel. This song is just full of hearfelt musings.
The more up-tempo Yes Or No keeps this wonderful album on the rails. the early Yes part feels confident and bright, but the middle No section sounds more doubtful, ambigious and a jot fretful before it returns to Yes.
Twelve More Bars To Go is meant to be a slightly intoxicated look at a 12 bar blues. Slightly staggering backwards sometimes, instead of forwards. These guys pull it off. The album is filled out by alternate takes of Juju and House Of Jade.
I really love this album. Give it a spin and see for yourselves.
on 6 December 2001
Wayne Shorter's second Blue Note album marked the start of a creative dream run for him.In retrospect, his '60s solo recordings for Blue Note proved to be hugely influential for the subsequent jazz generation.This was coupled with the fact that he was writing equally challenging compositions for the Miles Davis quintet.This body of work represents an artiste, truly at the peak of his powers.
Getting back to 'JuJu',Shorter assembled the same cast which had powered it's predecessor 'Night Dreamer'.Pianist McCoy Tyner and drummer Elvin Jones were John Coltrane's soul mates, and comparisons were bound to crop up between Shorter and Coltrane.But this is were 'JuJu' proves to be a watermark for the artiste, for on this he was able to carve out a stylistically original sound for himself.
It is pretty evident on the opening cut,'JuJu',the song swings unlike anything else that was being produced at that point.A variety of influences creep into this record, including a oriental tinge to 'Mahjong' and a strong undercurrent of future mentor Miles Davis on 'Deluge'.'Yes or No'relentlessly grooves and so does the closer'Twelve More Bars To Go', a classic blues work out.
'JuJu' is a classic which has mangaged to remain quite unique sounding even after so many decades.By the time Shorter followed it up with another masterwork 'Speak No Evil',he hadspawned a legion of imitators.
on 16 October 2004
This is the disc that paired saxophone maestro Wayne Shorter with the classic John Coltrane rythmn team, albeit that Workman was an irregular member of that group. Whilst I must admit a preference to Shorter's "Speak no evil" where the more sympathetic Herbie Hancock takes the piano chair, this records affords us the opportunity to see how the combination of Tyner and Jones would effect the leader.
For my money, I much prefer Shorter to Coltrane , the former willing to explore the nooks and crannies of the harmonies of the compositions whereas Coltrane preferred to approach the music with a simplified modal harmonic cloak that provided the launchpad for his incredible lights of improvisation. On "Juju", it is interesting to note that Shorter sounds more like Coltrane than on any other recording although clearly he is streets ahead in the composition stakes as this record continues to demonstrate his ability to produce memorable and durable numbers. My favourite is "Deluge" although the stronger material on this offering is probably the more restrained material such as "House of Jad " and "Mahjong."
This is rightly considered a classic and any serious fan of Mr. Shorter will want to acquire this disc. However, his most recent Quartet with Danilo Perez has recorded an album features the title track and , if anything, proves that Wayne Shorter has gotten better with age. "Juju" is still a worthwhile investment if you don't already have this disc.
on 12 September 2007
I recently wrote a review of "Sweetnighter" which I consider a bona fide classic album. Reminded me to revisit this old favourite. And it is, simply, terrific. Although Wayne Shorter is still producing great music, this is easily my favourite album. The sheer "bite" or agressiveness in the playing and that kinda setting your teeth on edge tone that I love with some guitar work (e.g. "Zuma") are here in abundance. The quality of the playing and composition is, to my ears, superb. Great to hear a couple of alternative takes, which are well worth having in their own right, though the preferred takes are probably better, and which give you an insight into how much was "written" and how much was improvised. They also show you the level of inventiveness in these musicians.
Just an observation... Wayne Shorter has become more "mellow" as he has aged, in contrast to the late, great Art Pepper who was the epitome of west coast cool when he was young (not to my taste), but in the late 70s/80s he came out of prison and was re-born - far more aggressive in his playing. Check out "The Blues for the Fisherman" album.
EDIT.. it seems that in the last few albums Wayne Shorter has returned to the tenor sax in an acoustic setting and is displaying the old "fire" in his playing... maybe I spoke too soon of "mellowing"! Must check out these recent albums - ("Footprints Live", for example).
Given that Wayne Shorter would appear to be a somewhat diffident individual, he has made a huge contribution to jazz both as a performer and composer. The list of bands and personalities with whom he has associated is seemingly endless: Art Blakey,Maynard Ferguson,Miles Davis,Weather Report, Santana and Herbie Hancock to name but a few,indicate that we are dealing with a jazz giant here! As a solo artist Wayne can lay claim to having produced some seriously good outings for our listening pleasure, of which this wonderful quartet date from 1964 with members of John Coltrane's band is but one.
'Ju Ju' tell you all you really need to know about Wayne Shorter. His tone on tenor sax is warm and lustrous with overtones of the melancholic and his ideas expressed with a breathtaking fluidity and sense of economy whilst avoiding excess and cliche make him a player who deserves every drop of acclaim that has come his way. Shorter's concern is use his playing and that of his excellent back up group's, to present and develop his uniquely sinuous yet memorably bluesy-boppy compositions,of which this album can provide many examples. It is difficult to pick out favorites from this set,however, I can confess a fondness for the title track, the very engaging 'House of Jade' and the extra zippy 'Yes or No'.
It's easy to hear how Miles Davis must have been influenced by Shorter after listening to 'Ju Ju'on classics like 'Miles Smiles ' and 'ESP' by the way that the music seems to unfold in it's own time, where melodies and solo's form and dissolve in a peculiar form of circular motion, seemingly going on a long musical journey and then all of a sudden arriving back at the point of departure.If Shorter was more of a 'marketable' personality, I'm sure that he would be held in much more esteem then is currently the case, given his unique voice as an instrumentalist and talent as a band leader and writer.
Anyway,'Ju Ju' is a great album- musically inventive yet with enough melody to entertain even the most unsure of listeners. I would boldly say that anyone with even a passing interest in Jazz should get this disc or at least investigate it. To make matters even better, the remastering is superb and the sleevenotes help put the project in perspective. Great album.Anyone with even a passing interest in Jazz should get this disc.
I find it hard to put into words the spell that Wayne Shorter`s early Blue Note albums cast over me. Speak No Evil, for example, is an unimprovably great jazz record of its time, and Juju is nearly an hour - including two well worth having alternate takes - of captivating music that I for one can`t stop playing.
As usual, Elvin Jones proves to be the most alert of drummers, with a skinful of ideas, always responsive to the moment, while still his own man. Reggie Workman`s bass is a spare, ruminative undertow to the currents of the music, and McCoy Tyner, as ever, is the most lyrically acute pianist - quite different from the dreamier, impressionistic Herbie Hancock on other Shorter dates - whose apposite, limpid piano runs are a sheer joy to hear.
Wayne Shorter is the most mercurial and elusive of sax players, but he is chock-full of wonders here, finding many shadings in his tenor playing (rather more, dare I say, than Coltrane, with whom he`s often compared, tended to) from the smoothly tender to gruffly abrupt. All the compositions are his, and what inventive themes they are, giving the band plenty to get their teeth into.
This is mostly quite summery music with just a hint of melancholy, the latter not often too far away when Shorter is around.
The alternate takes of House Of Jade (its introductory theme courtesy of Shorter`s wife Irene) and the title track are a welcome addendum to a beautiful set, with their own glories to divulge to the grateful ear.
This is an album in a thousand, as close to perfect as any music gets.
This superb 1964 album represented a key milestone in the career of Wayne Shorter. In addition to the album marking his Blue Note debut as quartet band leader, the year also marked the transition of Shorter’s playing from Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers to Miles Davis’ band. Juju also stands as testament to Shorter’s maturing compositional skills. Alongside the obvious influence of Shorter’s key supporter, John Coltrane, and the involvement here of regular Trane collaborators McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones and Reggie Workman, Shorter was also establishing his own distinctive style, both in terms of composition and playing, reflected here in the restraint and brilliant use of space in his playing, across what is an outstanding set of diverse compositions.
The 1998 Rudy Van Gelder remaster of Juju gives us the six original tunes, plus two alternate takes (the title tune and House Of Jade) all delivered via crystal clear sound. The band’s playing here is, of course, exemplary throughout. Shorter’s versatility and subtlety are to the fore, whilst Tyner’s inventive, lyrical solos and Jones’ total mastery of his kit are equally memorable. The gradual slow build intensity of the band on the famous title tune, with Tyner’s impressive solo and Shorter’s jaunty ‘cuckoo’ to conclude, is irresistible. House Of Jade provides many moments of exquisite beauty, whilst each of Deluge and Mahjong are mesmeric in their pacing and use of space, Tyner and Jones giving us magical subtlety in their playing. Yes Or No is the most driving, up-tempo number here, fluctuating (as the title intimates) between bright positivity and more introspective territory. The detectable hint of ironic humour that permeates much of the album is also evident on album closer Twelve More Bars To Go, whose swinging blues rhythm provides an appealing evocation of Shorter’s idea of a rather soused man doing the rounds of drinking bars. The alternate versions of title tune and House Of Jade also provide some intriguing (though, not ground-breaking) variations on the original album versions.
All-in-all, a milestone album, both for Shorter and for 1960s jazz.
While the arrangements in this collection aren't as complex as his quintet/sextet works, JuJu is a masterpiece of composition - wonderful tunes, expressive playing and mood shifts bepob, blues and ballad. I'm not an expert but the playing is marvellous throughout and i'd pick out McCoy Tyner for some exceptional performances (still can't decide whether i prefer Herbie Hancock as an accompanist). The tunes stick in your head long after the CD has finished and Shorter's improvisation round the themes is fresh and distinctive - don't let anyone tell you he's a Coltrane-copycat. There's not a bad track and it's even worth having the extra versions of JuJu and House of Jade (listen to that sax solo!), Mahjong has a lovely oriental feel and Twelve More Bars To Go is a classic. I find Adam's Apple and ETC less polished and only play Schizophrenia more often than this one. Buy, listen, enjoy.
on 30 September 2013
Glad to see this album available to purchase as I'm a massive Siouxsie and the Banshees fan.
Quick and speedy delivery, plays well of a good quality, thanks!
on 12 December 2015
I recently bought Speak no evil which I enjoyed very much. Reading reviews for Juju tempted me into buying a copy and I have not been disappointed in this CD.