The word “legend” gets bandied about a lot. But saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter, who turns 80 this year, truly deserves the tag. As the co-founder of Weather Report, a key part of some of Miles Davis's most important bands, and the man critic Ben Ratliff said, in The New York Times, is "generally acknowledged to be jazz's greatest living composer," there's no shortage of legend evidence.
Now that Shorter's releasing his first recording in 43 years for another kind of legend (the legendary Blue Note Records label), there's a strong sense that this is a significant moment in jazz. And as you'll hear on this live recording, he is fiery as ever, playing with a band that's both sensitive and seasoned (his longtime quartet of Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade).
STREAM Listen to Wayne Shorter's Without a Net until Feb. 5, 2013.
Shorter first recorded for Blue Note in 1959, at the age of 26 as a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. Eventually he got his own record deal, and made some classic albums during his Blue Note years (Night Dreamer, Juju, Speak No Evil, for example). Those were the years he played with Miles Davis, in one of Davis’s quintets, then on albums like Bitches Brew.
It would be easy for a gentleman of Shorter’s vintage to settle into something comfortable, nostalgic even. But as Don Was, president of Blue Note Records, points out in a press release announcing Shorter's return to the label, that’s just not the Shorter way.
“At age 80, we witness him at the height of his powers and performing with one of the most incredible bands he's ever assembled … in fact, it is Mr. Shorter's determination to constantly move forward that makes his new album, Without a Net, such an essential listening experience.”
As for Shorter, in the release he says, "The challenge we as artists face today is to create a ‘singularity’ or an ‘event horizon’ so that as human beings we will break the cycle of ego dominated actions which through repetition keep us bound to stagnation which denies us entrance to the Portal of Life's Ultimate Adventure!"
The album consists of live recordings from a 2011 European tour, except for “Pegasus,” which features the Imani Winds, recorded at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. There are six new pieces by Shorter, and new versions of “Orbits” (from Miles Davis’s Miles Smiles) and “Plaza Real” (from Weather Report's Procession). Plus, the title song from the movie Flying Down to Rio.
2. "Starry Night"
3. "S. S. Golden Mean"
4. "Plaza Real"
7. "Flying Down to Rio"
8. "Zero Gravity"
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Danilo Pérez and the jazz for peace playlist
Q&A: Jack DeJohnette at 70
Wayne Shorter's official website