I first heard about Wayne Shorter when my dad bought the brilliant “1+1” (Verve 1997) album he recorded with Herbie Hancock. I listened to it and was blown away – the soprano saxophone in the hands of Wayne Shorter sounded like nothing I heard before. I had a “jazz band” in my music school at the time,1 and I told the guys “Look, Shorter and Hancock play without drums and bass, so we can do it too!”, but obviously we couldn’t, and we all quickly understood that we know nothing about improvisation.
I haven’t bought any Wayne Shorter records for a couple of years. Some time ago I bought two of his classic albums – “Juju” (Blue Note 1964) and “Speak No Evil” (Blue Note 1965) – and enjoyed them, but of course this was the old post- hard-bop sound of late 60s, significantly different to Shorter’s current music which I didn’t know. That is, until last year’s release of his new2 quartet’s “Without a Net” (Blue Note 2013).
“Without a Net” reminds me of “1+1” a lot, even though it’s a quartet with piano (Danilo Perez), double bass (John Patitucci) and drums (Brian Blade), but the music is so much alike – somewhere between aggressive hard-bop and contemplative free, on the intersection of the best of classic 60s jazz, and the new, contemporary, and somewhat intellectually challenging music. I loved the album immediately, even though (as with “1+1”) I realized that I didn’t fully understand it, and it took me some time to fully appreciate the music. So when I heard Wayne Shorter Quartet is coming to town, I knew I had to go and see them live.
They played last Friday at our local Spring jazz festival NattJazz, and the concert was excellent. The music, as Hannah put it, was “enchanting”.3 The contemplative and delicate sound of Wayne Shorter’s saxophone juxtaposed with energetic, aggressive sound of the trio created what can only be described as magic, and it lasted for a 1,5hr concert and three encores. Next to Keith Jarrett Trio, Uri Caine Trio and Ornette Coleman quartet’s performances, Wayne Shorter Quartet’s Friday concert was one of the best one’s I’ve ever been to.
Here’s what their recent concert in Vienna looked like, the Verftet concert was quite similar.