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Discussion Starter #1
So last I night I saw the Wayne Shorter Quartet in Harrogate. This is the first time I've seen him so I was excited.

I have to say up front - I was dissapointed. :( A quartet of amazingly talented musicians but what they did just didnt grab me in any way.
The man himself didnt really play much - just short rhythmic riffs here and there where I wanted to see him really tear it up. (I guess he is getting on a bit now so maybe I was being optimistic).

So is this heresy - should I be burnt at the stake or is WSQ an example of the emperors new clothes?

Let me just get this flameproof suit on ...
 

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I don't think it's either heresy or the emperor's new clothes. These days, and that means the last 20 or so years at least, Wayne isn't really interested in marathon blowing sessions. Composition and carefully structured and crafted pieces seems to be what he is about and I think that extends to live performance. The first time I saw him live was with Santana. Like you I was expecting something special but Wayne mostly sat at the side of the stage while Santana got it on. He would wander out front occasionally, play something slight, and, to be honest, completely inappropriate to the piece, and then wander back. The highlight of that evening in terms of guest appearance was John Lee Hooker coming on for a couple of numbers.

Late period Wayne Shorter is more like chamber music to me and that's fine but it doesn't interest me. He's a great composer but the days of grandstanding sax playing are, at least mostly, gone. Others may have seen and heard what I think you were looking for but I haven't and I content myself with the recordings. To be fair he never was a 30+ chorus sort of guy.
 

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Forum Contributor 2011, SOTW's pedantic pet rodent
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I believe it's "Avoid disappointment. Aim low". A piece of advice that has served me very well indeed...
 

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I was foolish enough to purchase his "breaking the sound barrier" cd. Very dissapointing. I just don't get it. To me it sounds very "lazy". Nobody ever does anything.
 

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JimD said:
Wayne isn't really interested in marathon blowing sessions.

To be fair he never was a 30+ chorus sort of guy.
And that is exactly the point everyone should understand. Wayne has never done what many of todays saxophonists feel they need to do. He's never been a Sonny Rollins that could solo for 20 minutes straight. The thing that makes Wayne so different is that each and every note seems to be very important to way he colors is playing.

If I'm not mistaken Wayne's 80 or getting close to it, a former alcoholic, a buddhist, and has been through a lot of hard things in his lifetime. Just enjoy his music and be happy that they're still some of these geniuses left in the world.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I wasnt expecting 30 choruses of full-on blowing. More than a few bars at a time would have been nice though. Dont get me wrong I have great respect for Wayne Shorters work but this just didnt happen for me at all.

JimD summed it up as "Chamber jazz". I agree, and its not my thing.
 

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Yup - this was exactly how I felt when I saw the quartet a couple of years ago. I wasn't as disappointed as Dave as I was pretty familiar with his new material but I was hoping it would grab me more live. It didn't.

But heath does have a point - Wayne's earned the right to move on and fair play to him. Just not my thing.
 

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I remember hearing the same quartet several years ago, a time when I was just getting into jazz. Of course, I didn't enjoy it, but I knew something unique was there. It was different from the other bands I had been listening to. There was a presence that I had never felt before.

Nowadays I understand it more, and sometimes really enjoy listening to that band. It is an ensemble which plays with a lot of subtlties. Wayne is just doing something different, and is at that point in his life where it is only natural to play that way -- seasoned, simple. It doesn't make it bad. However, I can understand why you wouldn't enjoy it from a listener's perspective.

He learned from Miles that it is better to not play everything you hear, but to hold yourself back and try to create something with honest, personal, and direct ideas. That is what we all strive for, but it seems so far away when we become blinded by technique.

I have nothing but respect and admiration for Wayne. He has gone through a lot in his life, and he is doing what he loves and always keeping a light-heartedness about it.

I think to really feel a certain kind of music or sound, you have to be willing to hear it for what it is. Wayne has played and written music in a wide variety of settings -- jazz to classical to folk, so if you label him as a "jazz" musician, his diversity is not seen as a continuum. One of my favorite albums of his Alegria, has much more of a classical sound than anything.

Whether you dig his current music or not, there is no denying his depth.
 

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JimD said:
I don't think it's either heresy or the emperor's new clothes. These days, and that means the last 20 or so years at least, Wayne isn't really interested in marathon blowing sessions. Composition and carefully structured and crafted pieces seems to be what he is about and I think that extends to live performance. The first time I saw him live was with Santana. Like you I was expecting something special but Wayne mostly sat at the side of the stage while Santana got it on. He would wander out front occasionally, play something slight, and, to be honest, completely inappropriate to the piece, and then wander back. The highlight of that evening in terms of guest appearance was John Lee Hooker coming on for a couple of numbers.

Late period Wayne Shorter is more like chamber music to me and that's fine but it doesn't interest me. He's a great composer but the days of grandstanding sax playing are, at least mostly, gone. Others may have seen and heard what I think you were looking for but I haven't and I content myself with the recordings. To be fair he never was a 30+ chorus sort of guy.

Actually, with his current quarter, typically, it's the opposite. I saw the band on their inaugural tour a few years ago and it was awesome, open ended, HIGHLY improvisational presentation. I thought at the time that the band's approach and execution was the logical extension of Miles' 60's quintet, in a good way.

I agree that Wayne is a meticulous composer and always has been, but this is typically a VERY spontaneous, blowing quartet. Maybe Wayne IS slowing down a bit, but I'd attribute any lack of playing or fire to whatever was happening around or inside him on this particular night.

bigtiny
 

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bigtiny said:
Actually, with his current quarter, typically, it's the opposite. I saw the band on their inaugural tour a few years ago and it was awesome, open ended, HIGHLY improvisational presentation. I thought at the time that the band's approach and execution was the logical extension of Miles' 60's quintet, in a good way.

I agree that Wayne is a meticulous composer and always has been, but this is typically a VERY spontaneous, blowing quartet. Maybe Wayne IS slowing down a bit, but I'd attribute any lack of playing or fire to whatever was happening around or inside him on this particular night.

bigtiny
As a composer myself, Wayne's writing has certainly been an influence. What makes his current band so interesting (like you mentioned) is their spontinaety. They are letting the present moment dictate the direction. Brian Blade can sometimes be a little over the top for me, but all in all, a great combinaton of musicians. It's a kind of freedom that you can only attain by decades of experience.

I also love Wayne's philosophy about life and the creative process.
 

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I saw him at Berklee a few years ago. I'm sorry to say that for me it was the WORST music I have ever had the misfortune to hear. Couldn't wait for the noise to end.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
By way of a postscript ...
I heard a radio broadcast of WSQ at the festival hall recorded a week before the gig I was at. Wayne played more, there was more melodic content and he seemed more into it on the london gig.
When I saw him he seemed to be having some problem with his right hand so I wonder if some physical difficulty was hampering his playing.
 
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