When Wayne Shorter recorded this date in 1964, he was asserting his own voice as both a saxophonist and a composer after his years with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. He's joined here by pianist McCoy Tyner and drummer Elvin Jones, essential parts of the then dominant John Coltrane Quartet, but Juju serves to emphasize what was distinctive in Shorter's approach as well as the similarities. Though he shared something of Coltrane's twisting line and hard sound, Shorter was far more interested in crafting conventional compositions, and there's a range of everyday emotions to be felt in this music that went untouched in Coltrane's more intense work. Shorter's a master of tension and release, using contrasting elements in a piece, mixing major and minor, consonance and dissonance, and different rhythms to evoke complex moods of doubt and playfulness or constraint and joyous swing. Those structures are a happy fit with Tyner and Jones as well, who can bring their characteristic welling intensity to "Juju," a relaxed bounce to "Yes or No," or a subtle oriental emphasis to "House of Jade.
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