Nefertiti was the album that introduced me to Miles Davis and to Tony Williams. This was the 4th album of the second great quintet (Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams, Ron Carter, and Miles himself) and the last fully acoustic album of Miles Davis’ career.
I remember borrowing it from a coworker at Argyle Winery when I was a teenager and taking it home to listen to it. I was going through a fusion phase at the time so listening to an acoustic post-bop album was a bit different for me and I don’t think I really appreciated it for what it is at the time. Plus I was a teenager so I craved the fast energetic music and not this somber acoustic jazz. But I gave it a few more listens and fell in love with it, especially Tony Williams drumming. The amount of sound and emotion he can get out of just his ride cymbal and snare drum is amazing. Nothing makes me want to sit down and just bang away on those two more than listening to this album.
Most times people refer to this album they talk about the title track because there are no solos from Wayne Shorter or Miles Davis. Instead these two play an ostinato throughout the song allowing Tony Williams and Herbie Hancock to stretch out and play which is a switch from how jazz was typically done back in 1968. While that track is a great song and a great lesson for any drummer on how to improvise my personal favorite is the track Tony Williams’ contributed “Hand Jive”. It’s probably the most upbeat track on the album and is driven by Williams drumming and Shorter’s soloing with a nice solo by Herbie Hancock at the end. The re-released version of the album comes with two alternative takes of the song that while not as good as the original are still worth listening to.
Every track on this album is great. It starts off slow with “Nefertiti” and “Fall” before building up with “Hand Jive” and “Madness” before settling down a bit towards the end with “Riot” and “Pinocchio”. This album is not as upbeat as some of the other albums released by this quintet but that is probably due to the fact that half of it was recorded two days after John Coltrane’s death. It is also not smooth jazz by any means but I do love waking up on the weekend drinking my coffee, reading my book, and relaxing while I read and inspired by the beauty of the music on Nefertiti before starting my day.
Wayne Shorter – The Weather Report Live at 8:30