January 26, 2017

Alan Shorter - Orgasm (1969)

Alan Shorter is the brother of legendary tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter. I first heard him years ago on the final track of The All Seeing Eye (composer credit and flugelhorn contribution). I never bothered checking out his Verve album at the time because there were dozens of jazz classics which caught my attention first and before long I forgot about this album. Orgasm follows in the same vein as The All Seeing Eye with its odd, primordial explorations--not really matching its title at all. This is hidden pretty deep in shelves of history, which is kind of surprising given Alan's sibling relationship to Wayne and the intriguing lineup choices of Gato Barbieri and Rashied Ali, two of the most iconic free jazz musicians from this era. Barbieri and Shorter's exchanges and melodies are super inspired by Ornette Coleman's compositions (Charlie Haden plays on the first and last track on here, by the way), so if you're a big fan of 60s Ornette, then there really isn't a reason for you not to check this out. Not the most amazing jazz album ever, but there is a lot to love about this earthy and brooding atmosphere. Maybe I would push this album up a little higher in my personal rankings if Gato's shrieking didn't detract so much from the ambience. It's a shame because he was very talented and had a great tone, but I just can't put up with that harsh noise on small group stuff like this (see my review for Dollar Brand - Confluence). I'm left a little disappointed knowing there is very limited Alan Shorter material--as he was a more than capable composer who could skillfully mix great textures with great timing and a good sense of musical space.