Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Wayne Shorter Quartet: Without a Net

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

I saw five concerts by the Wayne Shorter Quartet between 2005 and 2011, in four countries. I thought every one was a failure. Their chosen format of unbroken improvised suites, Shorter compositions flying by in fragments, put a creative pressure on the ensemble that it could not sustain for 80 minutes. There were dead spots. They often flailed and floundered, searching for a path. Shorter sometimes noodled a little tentative run, pulled his soprano saxophone out of his mouth, stared at it and winced, and fell silent for several minutes.

Then, at the Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia, Italy, in July 2012, Shorter’s band gave one of the most overwhelming, transcendent concerts I have ever witnessed. It was a religious experience for a secular man. They hit crescendo after crescendo. The whole band seemed to levitate. Shorter’s soprano raved and sang in a sublime delirium.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published