Zwee Dot: How Kelly Sill Listens to Music – Wayne Shorter’s “Prince of Darkness”

Updated: Nov 4

by Kelly Sill

In this month’s “Zwee Dot” Kelly Sill shares his listening notes to Wayne Shorter’s “Prince of Darkness” from the 1967 Columbia release, Sorcerer.

“Prince of Darkness”

From the Miles Davis recording

Sorcerer – Columbia Records

Recorded May 16–24, 1967

Miles Davis – Trumpet

Wayne Shorter – Tenor saxophone

Herbie Hancock – Piano

Ron Carter – Bass

Tony Williams – Drums

00:01 And it starts

00:03 With a pickup no less

00:09 Very simple melody

00:20 Same thing

00:23 Miles is messing with the melody

00:30 Very loose melody

00:37 Miles starting right in; Ron doing a hemiola almost immediately

00:44 It’s a three hemiola

01:03 Miles’s melodic approach is really beautiful

01:10 Wow, Ron kept that going on for a long time

01:14 Miles keeps going back to the melody

01:20 Yeah Ron—that eighth note thing is really cool!

01:30 That’s really incredible; Ron Carter is absolutely taking control of that cut

01:37 Back to the melody

01:41 Miles sounds really comfortable with Ron doing all that stuff

01:47 More melody

01:56 Miles really putting himself forward, and Ron back to the hemiola

02:16 Nice messing with the melody

02:22 Miles ends quoting the melody

02:27 Wayne starts with the shape of the melody

02:39 Flurries, with little pieces of the melody stuck in

02:49 Same thing, with Ron playing very abstractly again

02:59 Wayne paraphrasing the melody, and Ron getting out of the key for a second

03:07 Herbie has not played a single note for over two minutes

03:19 Wow—this is really broken up!

03:30 Wayne developing the melody, and Ron playing really across the grain

03:48 Classic Wayne

03:52 Back in with the melody, even with Herbie

04:04 The whole head

04:11 Herbie starts very slowly

04:17 Tony and Ron react by going into a halftime, open feel

04:26 And now it begins to move again

04:35 Great interaction

04:42 Back to a beat, with Ron on a hemola again

04:55 Two distinct rhythms simultaneously

05:02 My god, Herbie is now playing double time and Ron is all over the place

05:08 Tony playing a ton of stuff, and totally out of the way

05:17 Man, there sure is a lot going on right here

05:24 They’re starting to come down here

05:32 Beautiful!

05:38 Miles in with the head, and Wayne just behind him

05:45 Everyone is in, and they’re playing the head straight

05:57 What a beautiful head

06:04 And the last phrase; and the last phrase again; and the last phrase again; and the last phrase again; and the last phrase again; and the last phrase again; I’ve never heard them do anything like that before

06:24 Another beautiful cut!

Kelly Sill has been a mainstay of the Chicago jazz scene for more than 45 years. After receiving his bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he moved to Chicago. 

He has since performed and recorded with a vast array of jazz artists, including Art Blakey, Joe Henderson, Art Farmer, Eddie Jefferson, Clark Terry, Cedar Walton, Herb Ellis, Woody Shaw, Hank Jones, Freddie Hubbard, Kenny Burrell, Barney Kessel, Chris Potter, Ernie Watts, Bob Mintzer, Mel Torme, Anita O'Day, Janice Borla, Jack Mouse, Jackie McLean, Joey DeFrancesco, Donald Byrd, Bobby Watson, Eddie Harris, Scott Hamilton, Victor Lewis, Clifford Jordan, Bucky Pizzarelli, and many more. 

He has performed at the Chicago Jazz Festival, Ravinia Festival, the Elkhart Jazz Festival, the Red Sea Jazz Festival, the Thessaloniki Concert Hall in Greece, and Symphony Center (Orchestra Hall) in Chicago.

Kelly has served on the faculties of Northwestern University, Interlochen Arts Academy, Northeastern Illinois University, Lake Forest College, DePaul University, and Northern Illinois University. He currently teaches at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. For questions or comments please contact him at kellysill1@gmail.com or visit his website at KellySill.com.