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Concert Review: Wayne Shorter Quartet and the LA Phil, 2-9-13

Esperanza Spalding helps unveil a new epic piece in L.A.

Wayne Shorter
The Wayne Shorter Quartet

Although he could sensibly rest on his laurels and his stellar songbook by now, Wayne Shorter is not going easily or lazily into his 80s. Creative pistons are firing on multiple levels, and long-labored-over projects are coming to fruition in the last half of his 79th year on the planet, including the release of his first new album for Blue Note Records in some 43 years, Without a Net, by far the finest document of his current, dozen-year-old band yet.

In some ways more significantly, actually, Shorter unveiled an inherently ambitious new half-hour piece, Gaia, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, his own quartet and an especially challenged-and challenge-conquering-Esperanza Spalding as featured vocalist. As the centerpiece of a concert in the grand, acoustically glorious Walt Disney Concert Hall on Saturday, February 9, which also featured a short piece by the Shorter Quartet (with Danilo Pérez, John Patitucci and Brian Blade) and six shorter orchestra-equipped works after intermission, Gaia is a masterful piece of work, and one for the books, an orchestral jazz opus that manages to transcend the frequent communication obstacles of the genre.

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