Wayne Shorter’s Without a Net
By: Matthew Allan
The opening four piano notes on “Orbits” offer a brooding, pseudo-sinister introduction to Wayne Shorter’s much anticipated return to Blue Note Records, Without a Net. It repeats for 22 hair-raising bars with Shorter and his band injecting quick spurts and jabs underneath; a soundtrack of someone turning around a dark corner, fearful of what they may encounter on the other side. Soon, he and the quartet kick into the familiar sound of the song he composed for his former employer Miles Davis on his landmark Miles Smiles LP. However, don’t expect this 79-year-old to reach back to the old days. No, this is the sound of the future, and Shorter intends to not just to be included but to recruit anyone who’s stuck in the past.
It’s been 43 years since the legendary tenor saxophonist made a record for Blue Note, a label where he created some of jazz’s most inventive, time-tested albums, such as Speak No Evil, JuJu and The Soothsayer. Without a Net is a fateful title; he and his longtime quartet of pianist Danilo Perez, drummer Brian Blades, and bassist John Patitucci, bypassed the studio all-together and recorded six new Shorter compositions before a live European audience. Knowing that his audience and the music world at large have come to expect nothing short of spontaneous genius from this legendary composer, Shorter came well prepared and took the crowd on a ride high above the big top.
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