502 Blues (Drinkin' and Drivin')
Chief Crazy Horse
Wayne Shorter was well into his historic tenure as tenor saxophonist in the Miles Davis Quintet when he made a slew of important Blue Note albums as a leader. Not uncommonly, he’d have his Davis bandmate Herbie Hancock on piano, as is the case with Adam’s Apple, recorded in February 1966.
Some of Shorter’s Blue Note releases featured larger lineups with three or four horns, but Adam’s Apple returned to the intimate yet hard-driving quartet format of JuJu, recorded in ’64. Reggie Workman, the bassist on JuJu, was on hand again for Adam’s Apple, joining Hancock and drummer Joe Chambers in a set of exquisitely wrought Shorter originals (and a gem of a Jimmy Rowles tune, “502 Blues [Drinkin’ and Drivin’]”). One of these, “Footprints,” is Shorter’s most famous and widely played song, heard here roughly seven months before the Davis quintet recorded it (much faster) on Miles Smiles. There’s also a bonus track, “The Collector,” a Hancock original taken up by Davis as well and renamed “Teo’s Bag” (Davis’ version appears on Circle in the Round).
Interestingly, Shorter recorded Et Cetera in mid-’65 with nearly the same Adam’s Apple personnel, but that album remained in the vaults until 1980. The melodic similarity of “Penelope” and “El Gaucho” bears remarking—Shorter seems to have reused the same motif, framing it in a wholly different compositional context.
Untangling all these details gives a clearer sense of Shorter’s journey as a composer and leader. But above all, Adam’s Apple is simply a great listen on its own terms—spilling over with melody, tight and focused band chemistry, and improvisation at the highest level.