Wayne Shorter on "Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum"

I'm sure Wayne Shorter gets complemented for his beautiful compositions all the time, but I don't think he gets enough credit for his gift for coming up with great titles. Seriously: just on Speak No Evil (1964), you have "Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum," "Dance Cadaverous," "Infant Eyes," "Speak No Evil," "Witch Hunt," etc.. Others might argue that the reason we like the titles so much is partially because of the quality of his compositions, but I think Wayne's titles are pretty definitive and evocative on their own. 

Anyway, to get back on point: it took me a long time to like Wayne (I've generally liked his music, but hadn't been a fan of his saxophone playing), and I think I get why he's lauded as he is. He plays with immense feeling. On "Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum," he doesn't play anything that a first-year conservatory undergraduate wouldn't be able to execute, but he plays with an intensity in an un-notateable way that makes it great, really great. Here's the solo:

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I did say "un-notateable" (I had a link to the recording, but I'm sure you can find it easily online).


  1. Nice transcription. I just wanted to throw in some thoughts on Wayne Shorter's saxophone playing. There is a lot to appreciate and take in here.

    On Speak No Evil and other of his solo albums from around the same period, Wayne plays with immense feeling, as you say, and in a somewhat subdued manner. I think Wayne's prowess as a composer shows through in his solos which are well layed out and fit the compositions very well. His tone is also unique, and quite recognizable.

    If you haven't, you should check out some of his older recordings with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers where he plays in a somewhat different style (although it is still very much his own). For instance on albums like Caravan and Night in Tunisia, Wayne plays some really burning bop solos with lots of harmonically precise sixteenth note lines. For me, it is interesting to view his Speak No Evil era playing as an evolution of this earlier approach.

    Also, if you get the chance be sure to check out his current live group. He has continued to evolve over the years, and you will recognize his signature tone instantly.

  2. A First Year under graduate might be able to execute the transcription technically but i doubt that they would be able to be able to improvise on the level that wayne does on this and other Blue note albums from the 1960's.Note how different his approach is on these albums from that he took on the Miles Quintet recordings from the same period.If you haven't checked out any of those recordings you really should.


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