CD: Wayne Shorter Quartet - Without A Net | New music reviews, news & interviews
CD: Wayne Shorter Quartet - Without A Net
A magisterial return to Blue Note for the iconic saxophonist and composer
Truly an ensemble cast, the Wayne Shorter Quartet's playing on Without A Net - marking Shorter's return to Blue Note Records after 43 years - fuses disparate elements into something transcendent and utterly original. From the slow burn of “Myrrh” to the searching, high-velocity romanticism of “Starry Night”, two of six new Shorter compositions featured, the album takes small group music-making to another dimension. The uniquely collegial four-way dialogue has been developed since the quartet - Shorter plus pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade - first assembled in 2000.
Eight of the nine live tracks were recorded during the quartet’s European tour in late 2011. The one exception is the epic, 23-minute tone poem “Pegasus”, in which the quartet joins forces with the New York-based quintet Imani Winds in a performance recorded at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
The album is aptly named and alludes to the Shorter aesthetic which views a piece of music not as being a closed, static artefact but a permeable and ever-changing construct. This notion is immediately laid bare in the open-ended harmonies of the lead-off track “Orbits”, one of three tracks Shorter penned for the classic 1967 album, Miles Smiles (1967), and “Plaza Real”, first recorded on Weather Report's Procession, both of which the quartet casts entirely anew.
As a member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and Miles Davis's groundbreaking second quintet, a co-founder of Weather Report, with numerous critically acclaimed albums as bandleader (Juju, Speak No Evil) and pored-over solos on recordings by Steely Dan and Joni Mitchell, Wayne Shorter's place as a bona fide jazz icon has long been assured. This remarkable addition to his powerfully distinctive body of work shows that, as he approaches 80 in August this year, his compositional powers continue to go from strength to strength.
Watch the Wayne Shorter Quartet perform "Zero Gravity"
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