Night Dreamer

by Paul Burmeister

It's hard for me to agree with anyone who thinks Wayne Shorter is not among the most important jazz figures of the 1960s. I prefer him over other candidates because of his important contributions as a sideman, and did any bandleader in the decade, other than Miles Davis, produce evidence that was as consistently excellent? A composer, player, and leader, Shorter participated in many of the most important movements, with the exception of free jazz. His own albums on Blue Note and his recordings with Miles Davis' quintet are proof enough of his high ranking. Another measure, for this writer, is my opinion that Shorter brought out the best in Elvin Jones, which might be blasphemy to those of you who prefer Coltrane and Jones.

Night Dreamer, recorded in 1964, is my favorite from his string of outstanding Blue Note releases. Featuring Lee Morgan, Reggie Workman, Jones, and McCoy Tyner (curiously listed as "Etc." on the cover), the album presents six solid originals, including the familiar title tune and "Black Nile." There are two takes of "Virgo"—both are very good. My recommendation for a playlist is the beautiful "Oriental Folk Song."

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