So, what keeps 4 score’d Wayne Shorter looking and sounding so young? ATTITUDE, BABY! Two bands gave tribute to his forward thinking style of music, and yet for his own set, he showed that even the younger “kids” still sounded positively retro in comparison to the jazz visionary.
Tenor saxist Joe Lovano and trumpeter Dave Douglas lead a Sound Prints Quintet with a 35 minute set that delivered a handful of free form and hard hitting tunes. The opening song was wild and free, while the second Monk sounding theme had the horns creating some rich harmonies. The rhythm team of Linda Oh/b, Lawrence Fields/p and Joe Baron/dr each got a chance to open up a bit, with Oh’s solo on the third tune showing some lyrical fluidity. Lovano sounded rough and gruff, while Douglas’ penetrating tone was creative and impressionistic.
The ACS trio of Geri Allen/p, Teri Lyne Carrington/dr and Esperanza Spalding/b delivered a thrilling half hour tribute to Wayne Shorter’s composistions, with themes ranging from the funky “Mysterious Traveller” to the flowing “Infant Eyes.” Allen’s insightful piano was gracious and thoughtful, while Carrington was simpatico with the teammates. Through the whole set, Spalding’s effervescence overwhelmed the stage, with her joyful plucking on “”Virgo” and bowing in “Fall” was infectious in its enthusiasm. A thrill to imbibe.
After Intermission, icons Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter ambled on stage and delivered a wondrously warm and intelligently swinging improvisation. Seeing Shorter soar on soprano in and around Hancock’s clever chords was like watching the Founding Fathers write notes on The Federalist Papers. Shorter’s regular teamof Danilo Perez/p, John Patitucci/b and Brian Blade/dr then replaced Hancock with some freewheeling jazz that was the zenith of empathetic and mind reading interplay. Shorter’s soprano and tenor were in perfect control on these fiendishly fierce obstacle courses of music, bobbing in and out of the gauntlets laid out by the jabbing rhythm section.
Enter the five piece Imani Winds to bring a romantic chamber sound to the atmosphere. The one long piece, which Shorter joked as a “De-Composition” mixed wondrous themes, seques and atmospheres to Shorter’s ensemble work as well as his solos on soprano, even throwing in a whistle here and there. The mix of control, freedom and power provided by the two groups acting as one seemed like a logical progression for the 80 year old artist who’s given us music with Art Blakey, Miles Davis and Weather Report. The future looks bright!