Recorded during two separate visits to Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in New Jersey during February 1966, Wayne Shorter’s tenth album Adam’s Apple finds a groove with the help of Herbie Hancock on piano, Reggie Workman on bass and Joe Chambers on drums.
The original album release features five Shorter compositions covering a variety of styles from mid-sixties hard bop funk, bossa nova and ballad to swing and one composition by pianist Jimmy Rowles, 502 Blues (502 being the police code for drinking and driving).
Shorter, at this point a two year veteran of the Miles Davis’s quintet and a leader in his own right, delivers one of the best hard bop offerings of the mid-sixties with Adam’s Apple. This is an album that may have been born out of necessity for Shorter, one in which brought him back down to earth from much of what he and his counterparts in Davis’ quintet were performing and experimenting with on a nightly basis.
The album begins with the title track, a funky, blues-based tune. There’s only six chords, but it provides the perfect vehicle for the soloists Shorter and Hancock. Shorter certainly sounds as if he’s really into this one by the end of his solo, the exuberance of which is handed off to Herbie to take across the finish line.
502 Blues (Drinkin’ and Drivin’) is a mid-tempo track in 3/4 which might be aptly named because of the swaying solo from Shorter, which brings to mind visions of a vehicle have difficulty maintaining a straight course down the road. Shorter however experiences no problem staying on track throughout. Again, Hancock’s playing is beautiful and melodic as well when it’s his turn to take the wheel.
The album’s fourth track is Shorter’s most famous composition, Footprints. The composition is heard here on Adam’s Apple for the first time, mere months before Davis and company solidified it as a classic standard on Davis’ Miles Smiles. The track here is almost simplistic in it’s 6/8 time signature. It’s a light workout for Wayne, but a beautiful one at that.
The album’s closer, Chief Crazy Horse is a tribute from one tenor to another, John Coltrane. It’s got a swing and swagger to it unlike the other tracks on the album. It’s a fitting tribute to Trane as it’s composed and constructed in a manner very similar to Coltrane’s composing style of the early sixties.
Overall, Adam’s Apple is a very accessible album, particularly to the uninitiated, falling between 1965’s The All Seeing Eye and 1967’s Schizophrenia and it’s one of Shorter’s finest outings from the mid-sixties.