The Downbeat Critics Poll was released today and the Wayne Shorter Quartet was named as the Critics “Jazz Group” of the Year. To see the full list click here read more
from npr.org Blue Note At 75, The Concert: Wayne Shorter Quartet During the 1960s, Wayne Shorter came to the fore not just for his talent on saxophone, but also for the compositions he… read more
from mercurynews.com Here are jazz’s 12 most important musicians By: Richard Scheinin Over 50-plus years, the saxophonist-composer has combined deep currents of innovation, oftentimes enigmatic, with popular success. He helped launch musical revolts… read more
from omaha.com Wayne Shorter Quartet skips tunes, paints in abstract tones By: Todd von Kampen Perhaps the best way to offer perspective on the Wayne Shorter Quartet’s Omaha concert Wednesday night is to… read more
from ajc.com Wayne Shorter and his quartet play jazz as it has always and never been By: Bo Emerson At 80 years old, saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter is a living window into… read more
from online.wsj.com Arc of Rediscovery By: Larry Blumenfeld Seated at the piano before a performance at Manhattan’s Jazz Standard earlier this month, Danilo Pérez told his audience, “We invite you to join us… read more
from npr.org The 2013 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll By: Francis Davis NPR Music is pleased to present the results of a poll asking well over 100 jazz critics to pick their favorite… read more
from blogs.voanews.com Wayne Shorter, a Living Sax Icon By: Diaa Bekheet Washington, DC – American saxophone legend Wayne Shorter is touring Europe to promote his new album, Without A Net. While in Europe,… read more
from jazztimes.com Concert Review: Wayne Shorter Quartet at Symphony Hall, Boston By: Bill Beuttler The Celebrity Series of Boston brings some of the best concert-hall jazz to the city each year, and this… read more
from boston.com Jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter’s influence on display at 80th birthday concert By: Jeremy D. Goodwin If Wayne Shorter were an aging rock guitarist, an all-star concert themed around his 80th birthday… read more
from buffalonews.com Wayne Shorter and his quartet let the music do the talking By: Garaud MacTaggart There was an almost palpable sense of excitement as Wayne Shorter and his quartet took the stage… read more
from artery.wbur.org Wayne Shorter Brings All-Star Revelers To His 80th Birthday Party By: Claire Dickson “The mystery of us is what we are trying to play. The mystery of ourselves, the mystery of… read more
theguardian.com Wayne Shorter/BBC Concert Orchestra/ACS – review By: John Fordham The embrace of a classical orchestra can be a dangerously domesticating temptation for a jazz musician. The trick to making it work seems… read more
ft.com Wayne Shorter at 80, London Jazz Festival, Barbican, London – review By: Mike Hobart When Wayne Shorter left Miles Davis in 1970, his body of work had pushed jazz harmony to its… read more
What’s the greatest working band in jazz today? That’s only a difficult question if you haven’t seen the Wayne Shorter Quartet. Once you’ve had that privilege—and, indeed, it is a great privilege—then the… read more
What to make of this abstract music? Is it chamber-jazz? Is it avant-garde? It is difficult listening to be sure, but also imbued with streams of luminous melodies from Shorter’s horns that satisfy… read more
The nature of the music itself seems outside time, both echoing that modern jazz annus mirabilis 1959 and being futuristic at the same time. To read the full article click here read more
When reedman Wayne Shorter hired pianist Danilo Perez, bass player John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade 10 years ago as compadres in a new iteration of his quartet, he’d found the perfect kindred… read more
Fleming returned to the stage for the evening’s artistic centerpiece, the world première of “Aurora,” by jazz legend Wayne Shorter. The work is, according to Shorter, just one part of what is to… read more
With the pianist Danilo Perez, the bassist John Patitucci, the drummer Brian Blade and Mr. Shorter on tenor and soprano saxophones, the band has been settling into performances full of articulated mystery. They… read more
Mr. Shorter’s set, including four pieces from his new live album “Beyond the Sound Barrier,” occasionally went to extremes, rising to exclamation points or dipping into the strange sound of nothing. To read… read more
Mr. Hancock and Mr. Shorter are herbieandwayne: the dyad that goes back to Miles Davis’s great second quintet during the 1960’s. As such they helped create the most lasting and widely influential group… read more
For the first time since the late 60s, since before In a Silent Way, before Weather Report – Shorter seemed interested in acoustic jazz again. The personnel was first rate; Danilo Perez on… read more
Born in Newark, New Jersey on August 25, 1933, had his first great jazz epiphany as a teenager: “I remember seeing Lester Young when I was 15 years old. It was a Norman Granz Jazz at the Philharmonic show in Newark and he was late coming to the theater. Me and a couple of other guys were waiting out front of the Adams Theater and when he finally did show up, he had the pork pie hat and everything. So then we were trying to figure out how to get into the theater from the fire escape around the back. We eventually got into the mezzanine and saw that whole show — Stan Kenton and Dizzy Gillespie bands together on stage doing ‘Peanut Vendor,’ Charlie Parker with strings doing ‘Laura’ and stuff like that. And Russell Jacquet…Ilinois Jacquet. He was there doing his thing. That whole scene impressed me so much that I just decided, ‘Hey, man, let me get a clarinet.’ So I got one when I was 16, and that’s when I started music.”
Switching to tenor saxophone, Shorter formed a teenage band in Newark called The Jazz Informers. While still in high school, Shorter participated in several cutting contests on Newark’s jazz scene, including one memorable encounter with sax great Sonny Stitt. He attended college at New York University while also soaking up the Manhattan jazz scene by frequenting popular nightspots like Birdland and Cafe Bohemia. Wayne worked his way through college by playing with the Nat Phipps orchestra. Upon graduating in 1956, he worked briefly with Johnny Eaton and his Princetonians, earning the nickname “The Newark Flash” for his speed and facility on the tenor saxophone.
Just as he was beginning making his mark, Shorter was drafted into the Army. “A week before I went into the Army I went to the Cafe Bohemia to hear music, I said, for the last time in my life. I was standing at the bar having a cognac and I had my draft notice in my back pocket. That’s when I met Max Roach. He said, ‘You’re the kid from Newark, huh? You’re The Flash.’ And he asked me to sit in. They were changing drummers throughout the night, so Max played drums, then Art Taylor, then Art Blakey. Oscar Pettiford was on cello. Jimmy Smith came in the door with his organ. He drove to the club with his organ in a hearse. And outside we heard that Miles was looking for somebody named Cannonball. And I’m saying to myself, ‘All this stuff is going on and I gotta go to the Army in about five days!’”
Following his time in the service, Shorter had a brief stint in 1958 with Horace Silver and later played in the house band at Minton’s Playhouse in Harlem. It was around this time that Shorter began jamming with fellow tenor saxophonists John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins. In 1959, Shorter had a brief stint with the Maynard Ferguson big band before joining Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers in August of that year. He remained with the Jazz Messengers through 1963, becoming Blakey’s musical director and contributing several key compositions to the band’s book during those years. Shorter made his recording debut as a leader in 1959 for the Vee Jay label and in 1964 cut the first of a string of important recordings for the Blue Note label. .”
In 1964 Miles Davis invited Wayne to go on the road. He joined Herbie Hancock (piano), Tony Williams (drums) and Ron Carter (bass). This tour turned into a 6 year run with Davis in which he recorded a number albums with him. Along with Davis, he helped craft a sound that changed the face of music In his autobiography, the late Miles Davis said about Wayne…“Wayne is a real composer…he knew that freedom in music was the ability to know the rules in order to bend them to your satisfaction and taste…” In his time with Miles he crafted what have become jazz standards like “Nefertiti,” “E.S.P.,” “Pinocchio,” “Sanctuary,” “Fall” and “Footprints
Simultaneous with his time in the Miles Davis quintet, Shorter recorded several albums for Blue Note Records, featuring almost exclusively his own compositions, with a variety of line-ups, quartets and larger groups including Blue Note favourites such as Freddie Hubbard. His first Blue Note album (of nine in total) was Night Dreamer recorded at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in 1964 with Lee Morgan, McCoy Tyner, Reggie Workman and Elvin Jones. The later album The All Seeing Eye was a free-jazz workout with a larger group, while Adam’s Apple of 1966 was back to carefully constructed melodies by Shorter leading a quartet. Then a sextet again in the following year for Schizophrenia with his Miles Davis band mates Hancock and Carter plus trombonist Curtis Fuller, alto saxophonist/flautist James Spaulding and strong rhythms by drummer Joe Chambers. These albums have recently been remastered by Rudy Van Gelder.
In 1970, Shorter co-founded the group Weather Report with keyboardist and Miles Davis alum, Joe Zawinul. It remained the premier fusion group through the ’70s and into the early ’80s before disbanding in 1985 after 16 acclaimed recordings, including 1980’s Grammy Award-winning double-live LP set, 8:30. Shorter formed his own group in 1986 and produced a succession of electric jazz albums for the Columbia label — 1986’s Atlantis, 1987’s Phantom Navigator, 1988’s Joy Ryder. He re-emerged on the Verve label with 1995’s High Life. After the tragic loss of his wife in 1996 (she was aboard the ill-fated Paris-bound flight TWA 800), Shorter returned to the scene with 1997’s 1+1, an intimate duet recording with pianist and former Miles Davis quintet bandmate Herbie Hancock. The two spent 1998 touring as a duet.
After Weather Report, Shorter continued to record and lead groups in jazz fusion styles, including touring in 1988 with guitarist Carlos Santana, who appeared on the last Weather Report disc This is This! In 1989, he scored a hit on the rock charts, playing the sax solo on Don Henley’s song “The End of the Innocence” and also produced the album “Pilar” by the Portuguese singer-songwriter Pilar Homem de Melo.
In 1995, Shorter released the album High Life, his first solo recording for seven years. It was also Shorter’s debut as a leader for Verve Records. Shorter composed all the compositions on the album and co-produced it with the bassist Marcus Miller. High Life received the Grammy Award for best Contemporary Jazz Album in 1997.
Shorter would work with Hancock once again in 1997, on the much acclaimed and heralded album 1+1. The song “Aung San Suu Kyi” (named for the Burmese pro-democracy activist) won both Hancock and Shorter a Grammy Award.
In 2009, he was announced as one of the headline acts at the Gnaoua World Music Festival in Essaouira, Morocco.
By the summer of 2001, Wayne began touring as the leader of a talented young lineup featuring pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade, each a celebrated recording artist and bandleader in his own right. The group’s uncanny chemistry was well documented on 2002’s acclaimed Footprints Live! Shorter followed in 2003 with the ambitious Alegria, an expanded vision for large ensemble which earned him a Grammy Award. In 2005, Shorter released the live Beyond the Sound Barrier which earned him another Grammy Award. “It’s the same mission…fighting the good fight,” he said. “It’s making a statement about what life is, really. And I’m going to end the line with it.”
Wayne has re-signed to Blue Note Records, and has released his first album as a leader for the iconic label in 43 years with the release of Without A Net, a searing new album with his long-running quartet featuring pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Brian Blade.
Without A Net is a 9-track musical thrill ride that consists of live recordings from the Wayne Shorter Quartetâ€™s European tour in late 2011, the one exception being the 23-minute tone poem â€œPegasusâ€ which features the quartet with The Imani Winds recorded at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. The album features six new Shorter compositions, as well as new versions of his tunes â€œOrbitsâ€ (from Miles Davisâ€™ Miles Smiles album) and â€œPlaza Realâ€ (from the Weather Report album Procession). The quartet also reinvents the title song from the 1933 musical film Flying Down To Rio, which film buffs know as the first on-screen pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
â€œWayne Shorter is one of the greatest musicians and composers of our time,â€ said Don Was, President of Blue Note Records. â€œAt age 80, we witness him at the height of his powers and performing with one of the most incredible bands heâ€™s ever assembled. Although welcoming him back to Blue Note Records after 43 years is a romantic notion, Wayneâ€™s enduring appeal is rooted in his steadfast refusal to trade in such nostalgia. In fact, it is Mr. Shorterâ€™s determination to constantly move forward that makes his new album, Without A Net, such an essential listening experience.â€
Wayne Shorter took jazz by storm with 2002â€™s Footprints Live!, marking the return of the firebrand improviser of the 1960s after decades of self-effacing fusion. Beyond the Sound Barrier continues in the same vein, with more live recordings of his working quartet. Pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade bring a mercurial collective creativity to the project, adding a fresh urgency to the kind of interactivity that marked Shorterâ€™s classic Blue Notes and his work with Miles Davis. The group can venture into free jazz on “Tinker Bell,” explore the classical lyricism of Mendelssohnâ€™s “On Wings of Song,” or bring new life to older compositions, as with the leaderâ€™s spinning, high velocity runs on “Joy Ryder” and the multi-dimensional exploration of “Over Shadow Hill Way.” Each track is an adventure, with Shorterâ€™s saxophones dancing through the bandâ€™s creative firestorm. -Stuart Broomer
Following the release of the critically acclaimed Footprints Live!, this CD is saxophonist/composer Wayne Shorter’s first studio recording as a leader since the Grammy-winning 1994 release, High Life. Shorter is joined by pianists Danilo Perez and Brad Mehldau, bassist John Patitucci, drummers Terri Lyne Carrington and Brian Blade, and percussionist Alex Acuna. Backed by a superb woodwind and brass ensemble, this project offers a comprehensive and sophisticated presentation of Shorter’s music, from the Andalusian airs on “Vendiendo Alegria” by Antonio Molina to a reincarnation of “Capricorn II” from his mid-‘60s Miles Davis days. Shorter’s soprano and tenor playing is his most expressive in years, and producer Robert Sadin (who worked on Herbie Hancock’s Gershwin’s World and Kathleen Battle’s So Many Stars) has provided Shorter with his most poignant sonic setting on record. -Eugene Holley, Jr.
The only thing more astonishing than the originality and complexity of tenor saxophonist-composer Wayne Shorter’s music is that this CD is his first live recording as a leader. Captured in Europe in the summer of 2001, Shorter’s compositions are reinvented by Danilo Perez’s sterling pianisms, John Patitucci’s rock-steady bass lines, and drummer Brian Blade’s stunning synthesis of Elvin Jones and Tony Williams’ styles. “Masquelero,” “Sanctuary,” and the hypnotic “Footprints” are resurrected from his stint in Miles Davis’s ’60s combos. “Go,” the African-derived “Juju,” and Shorter’s ingenious arrangement of Jean Sibelius’s “Valse Triste” come from his Blue Note LPs of the same era. The moody melodicisms of “Atlantis” and the Afro-Eurasian evocations of “Aung San Suu Kyi,” named for the Burmese political activist, are from Shorter recordings from 1985 and 1997. Simply put, Wayne Shorter is a jazz god, and these are his sacred sonic scriptures. -Eugene Holley Jr.
Hancock and Shorter perform ten compositions on the album, including the Grammy award winning “Aung San Suu Kyi”, named after the Burmese pro-democracy activist of the same name, “Joanna’s Theme” which originally was on Hancock’s original soundtrack to the film Death Wish and “Diana”, originally recorded for Shorter’s album Native Dancer. It is Hancock’s forty-first album and Shorter’s twenty-first.
The album was the first album Wayne Shorter had recorded as a leader for seven years. It was also his recording debut for Verve Records. High Life was something of a departure from the jazz-fusion albums that Shorter had recorded in the late 1980s after leaving Weather Report. The compositions were generally seen to be more complex than his previous efforts and the use of synthesized instruments was seen to be more subtle.
The album was produced by Marcus Miller (who also played electric bass) and keyboardist Rachel Z contributed to the orchestration on the album. A thirty-piece orchestral ensemble was also used in addition to the electronic instruments. Shorter played soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones on the album. Additionally, he wrote, composed, and arranged all of the compositions featured on it.
The album was released on October 17, 1995 and the final track (Black Swan) was dedicated to the memory of Susan Portlynn Romeo. High Life won the Grammy Award for best Contemporary Jazz Album in 1997.
It began almost as a lark when Carlos Santana encountered his longtime friend and hero Wayne Shorter on the concert trail in Atlanta, GA, in 1987. Carlos said, “Let’s start a rumor that we’re putting a band together.“Wayne’s eyes got bigger and brighter as he smiled and then responded: “Yeah, Carlos, let’s start a rumor.”
A few months later the Carlos Santana/Wayne Shorter Band performed its debut concert at The Fillmore in San Francisco, the beginning of a 26-concert tour throughout the U.S. and Europe. The performance of this magnificent band was recorded at Montreux, Switzerland, on July 14, 1988, and includes interviews with Carlos Santana, Wayne Shorter and festival creator Claude Nobs.
It was release on the Columbia label in 1985 and was Shorter’s first solo album since 1974. The recording is notable in Shorterâ€™s body of work both for its relative lack of improvisation and for the high level of its composition and group arrangements. Rock (backbeat) and latin rhythms are featured on several track, as is mixed electric and acoustic instrumentation. The composition “Shere Khan, the Tiger” was previously recording by a group including Shorter and Carlos Santana on the latterâ€™s 1980 album “The Swing of Delight”. Several of the compositions on this album would continue to feature in Shorter’s repertoire well into 2008, most notably the title piece. The cover art for the album is a pastel portrait of Shorter by actor Billy Dee Williams
Atlantis is the sixteenth album by Wayne Shorter. It was released on the Columbia label in 1985 and was Shorter’s first solo album since 1974. The recording is notable in Shorter’s body of work both for its relative lack of improvisation and for the high level of its compositions and group arrangements. Brazilian and Funk rhythms are featured on several tracks, as is a mixture of electric and acoustic instrumentation. The composition “Shere Khan, the Tiger” was previously recorded by a group including Shorter and Carlos Santana on the latter’s 1980 album The Swing of Delight. Several of the compositions on this album would continue to feature in Shorter’s repertoire well into 2012, most notably the title piece. The cover art for the album is a pastel portrait of Shorter by actor Billy Dee Williams.
The fact is that the 1970s were a highly productive time for Shorter. One of Shorter’s best-selling albums from the 1970s was Native Dancer, a Brazilian-oriented jazz-fusion masterpiece that boasts Herbie Hancock on acoustic piano and electric keyboards, and employs such Brazilian talent as singer Milton Nascimento (a superstar in Brazil) and percussionist Airto Moreira. Everything on this melodic, consistently lyrical effort is a jewel, and that includes Hancock’s “Joanna’s Theme” as well as pieces by Nascimento (“From the Lonely Afternoons,” “Ponta de Areia,” “Tarde,” “Lilia,” and “Miracle of the Fishes”) and by Shorter himself (“Ana Maria,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and “Diana”). Reissued on CD by Columbia in 1990, Native Dancer is clearly among Shorter’s most essential albums.
On August 26, 1970, Wayne Shorter recorded two separate albums for Blue Note (the other one is Moto Grosso Feio), his final projects for the label. For this set, Shorter (doubling on tenor and soprano) utilizes a double rhythm section comprised of vibraphonist Dave Friedman, guitarist Gene Bertoncini, both Ron Carter and Cecil McBee on basses, drummers Billy Hart and Alphonse Mouzon, and percussionist Frank Cuomo. On the verge of joining Weather Report (referred to in the liner notes as “Weather Forecast”), it is not surprising that Shorter’s originals include titles such as “Wind,” “Storm,” and “Calm.” These moody works were never covered by other jazz players but they work quite well in this context, launching melancholy flights by Shorter.
Recorded on the same day as Odyssey of Iska, this loose session (Wayne Shorter’s final one for the Blue Note label) is quite unusual. Although Shorter sticks to his customary tenor and soprano, pianist Chick Corea plays marimba, drums and percussion, bassist Ron Carter mostly performs on cello, electric guitarist John McLaughlin sticks to the 12-string guitar and bassist Dave Holland also plays acoustic guitar; drummer Michelin Prell rounds out the group. Not released until 1974 (and not yet reissued on CD), the music (which is influenced by early fusion). The group performs Milton Nascimento’s “Vera Cruz” and four of Shorter’s originals of which “Montezuma” is the best-known.
Doubling on soprano (which he had recently begun playing), Shorter interprets five of his originals (including “Water Babies” which had been recorded previously by Miles Davis) and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Dindi.” He definitely used a forward-looking group of sidemen for his “backup band” includes guitarists John McLaughlin and Sonny Sharrock, Walter Booker (normally a bassist) on classical guitar for “Dindi,” bassist Miroslav Vitous, both Jack DeJohnette and Chick Corea (!) on drums and percussionist Airto; Maria Booker takes a vocal on the touching version of “Dindi.” The influence of Miles Davis’ early fusion period is felt throughout the music but there is nothing derivative about the often-surprising results. As with Wayne Shorter’s best albums, this set rewards repeated listenings.
Wayne Shorter was at the peak of his creative powers when he recorded Schizophrenia in the spring of 1967. Assembling a sextet that featured two of his Miles Davis band mates (pianist Herbie Hancock and bassist Ron Carter), trombonist Curtis Fuller, alto saxophonist/flautist James Spaulding and drummer Joe Chambers, Shorter found a band that was capable of conveying his musical “schizophrenia,” which means that this is a band that can play straight up jazz just as well as they can stretch the limits of jazz. At their best, they do this simultaneously, as they do on the opening track “Tom Thumb.” The beat and theme of the song are straightforward, but the musical interplay and solos take chances that result in unpredictable music. And “unpredictable” is the operative phrase for this set of edgy post-bop tunes. Shorter’s compositions have strong themes, but they lead into uncharted territory, constantly challenging the musicians and the listener. Schizophrenia crackles with the excitement of Shorter and his colleagues trying to balance the two extremes.
With the possible exception of its song, “Footprints,” which would become a jazz standard, Adam’s Apple received quite a bit less attention upon its release than some of the preceding albums in Wayne Shorter’s catalog. That is a shame because it really does rank with the best of his output from this incredibly fertile period. From the first moments when Shorter’s sax soars out in the eponymous opening track, with its warmth and roundness and power, it is hard not to like this album. It might not be turning as sharp of a corner stylistically as some of his earlier works, like Speak No Evil, but its impact is only dulled by the fact that Shorter has already arrived at the peak of his powers. Taken in isolation, this is one of the great works of mid-‘60s jazz, but when Shorter has already achieved a unique performance style, compositional excellence, and a perfectly balanced relationship with his sidemen, it is hard to be impressed by the fact that he manages to continue to do these things album after album. But Shorter does shine here, while allowing strong players like Herbie Hancock to also have their place in the sun. Especially hypnotic are two very different songs, the ballad “Teru” and Shorter’s tribute to John Coltrane, “Chief Crazy Horse,” both of which also allow Hancock a chance to show what he could do.
The album finds Shorter in the company of two Davis quintet colleaguesâ€”bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williamsâ€”together with pianist McCoy Tyner, then a member of saxophonist John Coltrane’s classic quartet, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and the relatively unsung alto saxophonist James Spaulding. Hubbard and Carter had been retained from Speak No Evil; Tyner had been featured on the earlier Shorter albums Night Dreamer (Blue Note, 1964) and Ju Ju (Blue Note, 1964). Spaulding and Williams were new recruits.
Shorter’s virile playing aside, the album is worthwhile for the presence of drum prodigy Williams (Shorter’s regular drummers of the time were Elvin Jones and Joe Chambers)â€”who turns in an inventive solo on “Angola”â€”and for the strength of Shorter’s writing. The triple meter, medium groove “Lost,” the opener, is quintessential Shorter of the period. Eight years before the release of The Soothsayer it was featured on Weather Report’s Live In Tokyo (Columbia, 1972). “Angola,” which follows, sounds like it could have been written earlier, for Blakey’s band. The haunting “Lady Day” is a ballad tribute to singer Billie Holiday.
Of interest too is Shorter’s re-arrangement of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius’ pretty “Valse Triste”â€”on Speak No Evil, Shorter had credited Sibelius as a key inspiration for that album’s “Dance Cadaverous.” The word “deconstruction” may not have been common jazz parlance in 1965, but deconstruct is exactly what Shorter does here, sensitively and engagingly.
Wayne Shorter’s compositions helped define a new jazz style in the mid-‘60s, merging some of the concentrated muscular force of hard bop with surprising intervals and often spacious melodies suspended over the beat. The result was a new kind of “cool,” a mixture of restraint and freedom that created a striking contrast between Shorter’s airy themes and his taut tenor solos and which invited creative play among the soloists and rhythm section. The band on this 1964 session is a quintessential Blue Note group of the period, combining Shorter’s most frequent and effective collaborators. Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Elvin Jones merge their talents to create music that’s at once secure and free flowing, sometimes managing to suggest tension and calm at the same time. —Stuart Broomer
Recorded in 1965 but not released until 1980, Et Cetera holds its own against the flurry of albums Wayne Shorter released during the mid-‘60s, a time when he was at the peak of his powers. It is hard to imagine why Blue Note might have chosen to shelve the album, as it shows Shorter in a very favorable light with an incredibly responsive rhythm section performing four of his originals and a cover of Gil Evans’ “Barracudas.” The low-key nature of the album as a whole, especially the title track, might have contributed to Blue Note’s lack of attention, but there are definitely gems here, especially the closing track, “Indian Song.” At times the rest of the album seems like a warm-up for that amazing tune, where Shorter swirls around in a hypnotizing dance with Herbie Hancock’s piano, grounded by the nocturnal bass of Cecil McBee and the airy structure of Joe Chambers’ drumming. The short, repetitive themes and passionate, soulful playing echo John Coltrane, but this quartet has its own flavor, and the perfect, intricate web they weave here helps pull the whole session up to a higher level.
Blue Note rarely recorded groups of more than quintet dimensions, but this 1965 recording gives Shorter the luxury of a septet to present the most challenging and forceful music of his career. He uses the four-horn frontline to develop thick textures and dense, layered harmonies that build on his work with the Messengers as well as his own quartet and quintet dates. There’s a gravity of purpose in this meeting of post-bop and avant-garde impulses, a creative intensity that would be missing from his later work. Along with Shorter’s energized tenor, there are strong contributions from several Bue Note regulars of the period, including trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, altoist James Spaulding, and trombonist Grachan Moncur III. The rhythm section of pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Joe Chambers creates a churning, explosive backdrop. The most powerful track, though, isn’t composed by Shorter. It’s the concluding “Mephistopheles,” written by Wayne’s brother, Alan. A looming, menacing theme, it has darkly foreboding flugelhorn playing by Alan, a gifted avant-gardist who appeared on very few recordings in his brief public career. —Stuart Broomer
When Wayne Shorter recorded this date in 1964, he was asserting his own voice as both a saxophonist and a composer after his years with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. He’s joined here by pianist McCoy Tyner and drummer Elvin Jones, essential parts of the then dominant John Coltrane Quartet, but Juju serves to emphasize what was distinctive in Shorter’s approach as well as the similarities. Though he shared something of Coltrane’s twisting line and hard sound, Shorter was far more interested in crafting conventional compositions, and there’s a range of everyday emotions to be felt in this music that went untouched in Coltrane’s more intense work. Shorter’s a master of tension and release, using contrasting elements in a piece, mixing major and minor, consonance and dissonance, and different rhythms to evoke complex moods of doubt and playfulness or constraint and joyous swing. Those structures are a happy fit with Tyner and Jones as well, who can bring their characteristic welling intensity to “Juju,” a relaxed bounce to “Yes or No,” or a subtle oriental emphasis to “House of Jade.” —Stuart Broomer
At this point of his career, Shorter felt his writing was changing. While the previous compositions had a “lot of detail”, this new approach had a simplicity quality in it. “I used to use a lot of chord changes, for instance, but now I can separate the wheat from the chaff.”
In an interview with Nat Hentoff, Shorter focused on the album’s meaning: “What I’m trying to express here is a sense of judgment approaching – judgment for everything alive from the smallest ant to man. I know that the accepted meaning of “Armageddon” is the last battle between good and evil – whatever it is. But my definition of the judgment to come is a period of total enlightenment in which we will discover what we are and why we’re here.”
Wayning Moments is Wayne Shorter’s third and final album for Vee-Jay Records, showcasing Wayne playing bop and hard bop with Freddie Hubbard, Eddie Higgins, Jymie Merritt and Marshall Thompson. CD reissues added alternate takes of the 8 tracks that appeared on the original album.
he second of tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorterâ€™s three Vee Jay LPs, Second Genesis has five of Shorterâ€™s quirky originals plus the obscure â€œThe Ruby and the Pearlâ€ (from a â€™50s movie) and a pair of standards. Joined by a particularly strong rhythm section (pianist Cedar Walton, bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Art Blakey), Shorter sounds quite distinctive on the advanced hard bop material.
With this, his November 1959 maiden voyage as a leader, Newark native Wayne Shorter came out of left field with an already mature vision of the saxophone and modern harmony. This rare insight into a jazz icon’s early days comes to us courtesy of Koch Jazz, who have displayed a welcome propensity for seeking out and rescuing a host of abandoned strays from sundry indie and major label kennels, such as this long out-of-print Vee Jay master.
And what a find Introducing Wayne Shorter is, just as fresh and swinging and bluesy now as it was some 40 years ago. While the liquid cherry center of Shorter’s tenor sound itself was still in its formative stages, the distinctive harmonic outlines of his writing (“Pug Nose”) and the elliptical rhythmic and melodic thrust of his lines (“Black Diamond”) were already quite assured and engaging, as played in the fast company of fellow Jazz Messenger Lee Morgan and what was then the take-no-prisoners rhythm section of the Miles Davis Quintet: Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, and Jimmy Cobb. Despite a clear connection to Coltrane, no one ever seems to pick up on the influence of Lester Young, as seems plainly evident in both the theme and variations to “Blues Ã la Carte” (whose melodic contours bear a more than passing resemblance to his Jazz Messengers’ masterpiece, “Lester Left Town”). The tenor saxophonist’s laid-back demeanor; imaginative use of space; long, twisting melodic lines; and proclivity for impressionistic voicings and altered chords mark him as a Lestorian thinker, if not an acolyte. —Chip Stern