JazzTimes (11/96, p.115) - "...Shorter's improvisations, hypnotic in their effect, were contained in compositions with harmonies so interesting that he virtually never lapsed into the boredom that many Coltrane disciples, and Coltrane himself sometimes did in pieces with simplified harmonic structures..."
The Rudy Van Gelder Edition of JUJU includes an essay by Bob Blumenthal.
Personnel: Wayne Shorter (tenor saxophone); McCoy Tyner (piano); Reggie Workman (bass); Elvin Jones (drums).
Producer: Alfred Lion.
Reissue producer: Michael Cuscuna.
Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on August 3, 1964. Originally released on Blue Note (84182). Includes liner notes by Nat Hentoff and Bob Blumenthal.
Digitally remastered using 24-bit technology by Rudy Van Gelder (1998, Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey).
This is part of the Blue Note Rudy Van Gelder Editions series.
JUJU, Wayne Shorter's second Blue Note date as a leader, displays a more personal side to the legendary saxophonist. As the lone horn man, Shorter performs with an artistic sensitivity that was often hidden in the larger front lines of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and his later work with Miles Davis. His arresting tone is unfettered in this small ensemble setting. As a result, Shorter's singular approach is more clearly illustrated and his unique compositional style takes on a more exclusive tint.
Unlike his bold compositions for the Blakey bands, the tunes here have an inward mystery to them. The lilting title track, a waltz on the surface, contains a dark, tension-filled undertone that is deftly propelled by Elvin Jones' signature triplet whirls. Likewise, the delicate "House Of Jade" broods with an enigmatic current that underscores its otherwise bright melody. The quartet shines on the Coltrane-tinged "Mahjong," an introspective piece that reflects Shorter's study of eastern philosophies. The disc's highlight comes with the fast-paced "Yes Or No," a modern classic that showcases Shorter's masterful soloing abilities. In all, since Shorter is free to express his remarkable creativity here in such uncluttered surroundings, we are left with a much clearer picture of the man as an artist.