Well, I'll try to put into words what this show was like, and what this group is all about, but it will be tough.
Shorter is 73 years old, yet he plays the tenor & soprano sax like he's 23. He is a KING among musicians; he has played with everyone who is ANYONE for over 50 years, ALWAYS at the cutting edge, and even now he is still reaching out for "deep space", never just mailing it in. His smooth style, which I love so much, is not jarring or "busy" like so many jazz sax players, but he has got the chops to match ANY player of ANY generation. His playing has always reminded me of Jerry in the way he uses space & never rushes, and in how he gently phrases his notes with such articulation & emotion; often playing ONE note just perfectly and in ways that you never expect. He is a GIANT and a joy to listen to!
His group is simply unbelievable. There is really no way to describe how good each of these guys is - Brian Blade on drums, Danilo Perez on piano & John Patitucci on bass; ALL are world class monsters who take things far beyond anything that can be imagined, and they have been playing with The Master for about 8 years, so it's quite a group to see & hear. Blade in particular is a master who even at a relatively young age stands with the all-time great jazz drummers.
This is not EASY music to listen to; they don't play easily discernable songs, they play what is more accurately discribed as stream-of-consiousness music, flowing & improvising seamlessly through their compositions; but it's HOW they flow that leaves me awe-struck.
The show began with the group playing almost silently.... a single bass note, a distant drum roll, a tinkle of piano like rain late at night. Slooooooowly Shorter began to fade into the music, feeling his way around the growing sound without taking over or any overt front-man playing, a true group sound.
There were times through the first 40 minutes where I recognized a riff from one of his classic songs, but they would always drift away into different spaces as quickly as they ventured into anything that could reasonably be called a song. Mostly it was free-form music playing off of a theme, each player taking moments to rise in & then out of the music, rarely with anyone taking a true solo; it was group improvisation at it FINEST!
They played for about 40 minutes before they stopped for air (for them AND us!) then were right back into the groove. I know they were playing compositions because Perez & Patitucci were reading charts, but again, this was heavy, deep, serious music; TRIPPY, like the Dead at their best coming out of drums for an hour and a half!
This is not music for the casual fan, but to close your eyes and LISTEN to the unbelievable musical conversations that were happening, and to hear the amazing virtuosity and UNREAL enterplay between the musicians, I felt like I was on top of the Mt. Everest of music; that THIS was the SHIT!!
I had never been to the Marin Civic Auditorium before and I'm sorry I haven't, because it's a VERY neat theater; it had EXCELLENT acoustics, comfortable seats (I'm a big man so that always matters!) and a nice design (Frank Loyd Wright). The crowd was reverential; perfectly quiet through-out and totally into it, giving quick standing ovations at each opportunity.
As I write this I realize that I simply don't have the skill to put in words just how special this music is and how it humbles me, allowing me for a few moments to see beyond the normal boundries of everyday life. But if you are reading this then you probably understand how powerful truly amazing group improvisation can be, and how much depth & joy can be felt by being among such gifted players.
I was thinking at one point that even though this is as great as music gets, I would have a hard time recommending it to people because it's not the kind of music you can dance to or walk out whistling, but I don't care; EVERYONE should see this level of greatness, and have a chance to be in the presence of such musical giants.
Nice review, Lance!
Looks like I missed a wonderful night of music. Thanks for the great review.
Tx for the great review, Lance.
I last saw Wayne about 35 years ago with Weather Report, and he was in a league of his own way back then. Good to hear he's still got it goin' on.
Thanks for the review... I saw Shorter at Stanford last year with this same lineup and it was deep. Brian Blades is supernatural. One of the top jazz drummes in the world right now for sure.
Nice review Lance! Let's hope that some of this gets released! This band continues to get better and better; they are among the upper-echelon performers of creative group improvisation. There are maybe one, or two, other groups that could be in this league with Shorter's band.
>>>Let's hope that some of this gets released<<<
This group actually has two live CDs in general release, "Footprints: Live" recorded in 2001 and "Beyond The Sound Barrier" recorded a couple of years later.
They're both great representations of this group, with BTSB possibly a BIT more of what I tried to discribe above, but the probelem of course is that at least for me this type of music is so much better in person that I just don't quite get the same reaction from the recordings. I have however been listening to both in the past couple of days and been loving it!
>>>I saw Shorter at Stanford last year with this same lineup and it was deep.<<<
I was there too. This recent show was different, and I was thinking later that night that I'd love to see this group two or three shows in a row, just to get a feel for how differently they play from night to night. My sense is that each show would be unique & VERY interesting. They played at a nice venue in Davis the Friday before; I should have motivated and gone.
>>This group actually has two live CDs in general release
I agree with you that BTSB might be better at representing this group and I do prefer it to "Footprints Live." Both are great!
Brian Blade's "Believe" is one of my favorite CD's. I play that one a lot.
I felt some jealousy.
I've seen all of those musicians in different bands. I know how amazing they all can be.
Also, I have the 'Footprints" recording.
If you get a boot of that, let me know!
Lance - check this out:
Thanks for the great review!