Wayne Shorter is best known as a creative saxophonist, improviser and composer who has added his stellar musical visions to projects and bands lead by Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock, among others as well as Weather Report, the group he co-founded with Joe Zawinul. Besides his extensive work as a leader and sideman, he has worked steadily with his present quartet consisting of pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade. In addition to his performing life, the multiple-award winning musician is also an active educator and composer who has had works commissioned by several prestigious organizations.
This vein of activity has now lead to a recent celebration of his 80th birthday at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, CA during which several of his friends performed songs associated with or written by the legendary Wayne Shorter. Their inspiring performances focused on many of the songs Shorter’s fans have come to know but also featured some of his less explored musical masterworks.
The Joe Lovano and Dave Douglas Quintet: Sound Prints gave Shorter’s fans several different ways to hear his music. They also helped the audience to tap into the intrinsic artistry of each musician in this amazing quartet which featured bassist Linda Oh, drummer Joey Baron and pianist Lawrence Fields. Trumpeter Dave Douglas triumphantly filled the air with spontaneous improvisations that rang out in every register his instrument could manage. Saxophonist Joe Lovano’s abundant talents were expressed through exciting solos that beautifully described the invisible process of improvisation. Together, this group paid a memorable tribute to Wayne Shorter that was enthusiastically approved by the audience.
ACS – Geri Allen, Terri Lyne Carrington and Esperanza Spalding – captivated the audience with their exemplary straight-ahead jazz set. ACS’ musical performance tied together choice repertoire they lovingly culled from several of Shorter’s classics including “Mysterious Traveler,” “Fall,” “Virgo,” “Nefertiti” and “Infant Eyes.” ACS deftly merged and integrated Shorter’s genres and created a one-of-a kind listening experience during their solos and ensemble interplay. Their group was about voice, it was personal, it was about the exceptions and it was about feelings. Their set was also about their love for a jazz master who helped them bring their own light and fire to their music and art.
To close the evening, the master himself performed in a variety of formats. First in a duet with Herbie Hancock at the piano. Their improvised duet was exciting and imaginative. Next up was The Wayne Shorter Quarter which is comprised of Shorter on soprano and tenor saxophones, pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Brian Blade. They played songs from their latest Blue Note release titled Without A Net including “Orbit” and “Flying Down to Rio,” among others. The quartet closed the evening with a 12-minute fully altered, ‘deconstructed’ performance of “Pegasus” featuring the Imani Winds. This ensemble filled the air with memorable ideas and expressions of form sometimes equal to extended classical pieces. The audience responded with a standing ovation as the celebration ended and all members took their bows.
Wayne Shorter’s imagination is limitless and tonight nearly 15,000 fortunate audience members were able to experience the same brilliant imagaination he has shared for many of his 80 years.
Happy Birthday Mr. Shorter! For more information about Wayne Shorter and upcoming performances presented by the LA Phil at the Hollywood Bowl, please visit www.laphil.org.