Friday, October 12, 2018

Wayne Shorter - Emanon (Blue Note, 2018)

Wayne Shorter’s career encompasses the breadth of modern jazz, whether through his associations with Art Blakey, Miles Davis and Weather Report or his solo career that stretches back to 1959. This is a deluxe package that has three discs (and three LP’s in the supreme edition) along with a graphic novel co-written by Shorter. The leader plays his own compositions on soprano and tenor saxophone with his longstanding band of Brian Blade on drums, Danilo Pérez on piano, and John Patitucci on bass. On the first disc the band plays with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra which creates a sweeping and cinematic sound to Shorter’s compositions as the strings swoop and dive while still leaving openings for the quartet to make their mark. The music develops like a four part suite with the compositions rolling into one another. The quartet and the orchestra seem at odds on a few occasions, but overall the musicians and the performances mesh very well. Discs two and three of the collection quartet live in London, playing the repertoire without the orchestra including a lengthy version of “The Three Marias” where the rhythm section really allows the music to breathe with space as celestial soprano saxophone soars punctuated by the occasional bursts of sound. They piece together two earlier Shorter pieces “Lost/Orbits Medley” before moving into a breezy version of “She Noves Through the Fair” and finally wrapping up the performance with a momentous version of “Prometheus Unbound” ending the collection on an epic note. This collection worked well, the quartet has been together for nearly twenty years and Shorter is one of the great iconoclastic figures of the music, with a unique approach to composition and improvisation. Emanon -

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