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Adam's Apple (1966)

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Herbie Hancock

With the possible exception of its song, "Footprints," which would become a jazz standard, Adam's Apple received quite a bit less attention upon its release than some of the preceding albums in Wayne Shorter's catalog. That is a shame because it really does rank with the best of his output from this incredibly fertile period. From the first moments when Shorter's sax soars out in the eponymous opening track, with its warmth and roundness and power, it is hard not to like this album. It might not be turning as sharp of a corner stylistically as some of his earlier works, like Speak No Evil, but its impact is only dulled by the fact that Shorter has already arrived at the peak of his powers. Taken in isolation, this is one of the great works of mid-'60s jazz, but when Shorter has already achieved a unique performance style, compositional excellence, and a perfectly balanced relationship with his sidemen, it is hard to be impressed by the fact that he manages to continue to do these things album after album. But Shorter does shine here, while allowing strong players like Herbie Hancock to also have their place in the sun. Especially hypnotic are two very different songs, the ballad "Teru" and Shorter's tribute to John Coltrane, "Chief Crazy Horse," both of which also allow Hancock a chance to show what he could do. ~ Stacia Proefrock