Song of the Week – Speak No Evil, Wayne Shorter


When I started writing the SotW many years ago, my goal was to share some songs that I love with a few like-minded friends. I wanted to select songs that my readers might not be familiar with (thus the tag line – Ignored Obscured Restored) and describe them in such a way that might cause you to enjoy them as much as I do.

Sometimes it goes the other way too. Over the years many of you have commented back to me and suggested songs that I should listen to (or listen to again, in a different light). That is very rewarding.

Today’s SotW was inspired by an article that I read in Mojo (255, February 2015) where producer/musician Don Was described one of his favorite albums, jazz sax great Wayne Shorter’s Speak No Evil. He describes the title song with such passion that I had to download a copy and check it out.

Was starts by describing Elvin Jones “wild, unabashed drumming” and Herbie Hancock “playing these amazing chords” on the keys. But he hooked me with these words:

Then on top of Elvin and Herbie – who are like ying and yang – you’ve got Wayne, whose soloing sounds like he’s riding two horses. What struck me about his saxophone was that it was conversational. I pictured him walking down the street boxing and you can hear a few left jabs and then a flurry of punches and a strong right. Sometimes you can hear him drop back and dodge a punch and it’s like he’s talking the whole time and what he was saying to me was: ‘Don’t let this adversity get you down. Be courageous and confident’.

Wow, using that boxing metaphor to describe a solo performance is exciting and wonderful!

Thanks, Don, for turning me onto this great tune by describing it so vividly and passionately.

Enjoy… until next week.

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