ARTicle Magazine

Rogue Classic Albums Live: Speak No Evil

05 June 2017

Saxophonist Jake Baxendale on the 1966 Wayne Shorter album he and his band will be performing in the 2017 Wellington Jazz Festival.

Speak No Evil

Rogue Classic Albums Live: Speak No Evil, Jake Baxendale and band, 6pm, Friday 9 June, The Rogue & Vagabond, as part of the 2017 Wellington Jazz Festival, Wednesday 7–Sunday 11 June.

Speak No Evil is one of the first jazz albums I really got into. I found it at the university library and ended up listening to it obsessively. There’s so much that is great about it: the melodies are strong, the swing is deep and the vibe has a darkness and a moodiness offset by really joyful moments.

The thing that caught my ear first and foremost, however, was Wayne Shorter’s improvising. You can almost hear him thinking between phrases, and everything he plays has an intent and an incredible intensity behind it. I love how he doesn’t need a lot of notes or a million choruses to get there either.

Lately I’ve been coming back to this era of Shorter with my composer’s hat on. These tunes are a fantastic lesson in effective, interesting small-group horn writing, and take a wonderful harmonic approach that seems quite complex, but can actually be expressed in a very simple and earthy way once you understand it. 

The classic albums series is a great opportunity to get deeper into the music, so I’m especially looking forward to diving into this one.