Aural Delights – 8th September 2011 – Focus on Wayne Shorter…..

This “Mixcloud Only” show features a retrospective of the great tenor player Wayne Shorter.

Shorter is has been one of jazz’s leading figures since the late 1950s. He was originally “apprenticed” to  Coltrane, with whom he practiced in the mid-’50s while still an undergraduate. However in time he developed his own style which was less busy than Coltrane, on both tenor and soprano saxophones.  His influence as a player, mostly due to his achievements in the 1960s and ’70s, has been tremendous  . As a composer, he is best known for complex compositions  many of which have become jazz standards.

He has worked with the giants of jazz – Art Blakey, Miles Davis and with Joe Zawinul in the noted Jazz Fusion band Weather Report. This show  looks at his solo work from the late ’50s until now:

  • Blues A La Carte – Introducing Wayne Shorter (1959) – the album is also known as Blues A La Carte, this Vee Jay disc has his first session as a leader and it shows that, even at this early stage, Shorter was far along toward developing his own sound. Teamed up with trumpeter Lee Morgan, pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb, the six selections (five of which are Shorter originals) capture the young tenor shortly after he joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers.
  • Pay As You Go – Second Genesis (1960) – The second of Shorter’s three Vee Jay LPs,   has five   originals plus the obscure “The Ruby and the Pearl” (from a ’50s movie) and a pair of standards. He is joined by a particularly strong rhythm section – pianist Cedar Walton, bassist Bob Cranshaw and his boss at the time drummer Art Blakey.
  • Penelope – Et Cetera (1965) – Recorded in 1965 but not released until 1980, this album holds its own against the huge number  of albums Waynereleased during the mid-’60s, a time when he was at the peak of his powers.  This features  Herbie Hancock on piano,  Cecil McBee on bass and  Joe Chambers’on drums. The short, repetitive themes and soulful playing have an air of  John Coltrane about them, but this quartet has its own flavor, creating a great session.
  • Schizophrenia – Schizophrenia (1967) – Wayne was at the peak of his creative powers when he recorded this album in the spring of 1967. Putting together a sextet that featured two of his Miles Davis bandmates (pianist Herbie Hancock and bassist Ron Carter), trombonist Curtis Fuller, alto saxophonist/flautist James Spaulding and drummer Joe Chambers, Shorter found a set of musicians that was able to deliver straight and avant garde jazz.
  • Calm – Odyssey of Iska (1970) – On August 26, 1970, Shorter recorded two separate albums for Blue Note (the other one is Moto Grosso Feio), his final projects for the label before moving to Columbia. For this set, he uses  a double rhythm section with vibraphonist Dave Friedman, guitarist Gene Bertoncini,  Ron Carter and Cecil McBee on bass , drummers Billy Hart and Alphonse Mouzon, and percussionist Frank Cuomo. He was about to join Weather Report (referred to in the liner notes as “Weather Forecast”), so it is not surprising the tunes have titles such as “Wind,” “Storm,” and “Calm.”
  • From the Lonely Afternoons – Native Dancer (1974) – One of Shorter’s best-selling albums from the 1970s it’s a Brazilian-oriented jazz-fusion work-out with  Herbie Hancock on acoustic piano and electric keyboards,  singer Milton Nascimento   and percussionist Airto Moreira. This tune is a Nascimento original.
  • Atlantis – Atlantis (1985) – When it was released the album was Wayne Shorter’s first solo album in nine years and surprised some with it’s unpredictable funk rhythms, the use of electronics  and what might be best described as eccentric soprano and tenor solos from Shorter.
  • Anthem – Joy Ryder (1988) – not his most critically acclaimed album which is odd – on this album, Shorter (doubling on soprano and tenor) is joined by a   trio (keyboardist Patrice Rushen, bassist Nathan East and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington) and  guest musicians  s Herbie Hancock and Geri Allen on keyboards, and bassist Darryl Jones who been playing with Miles five years earlier.
  • On the Milky Way Express – High Life (1995) – his debut for Verve was his first release as a leader in quite a long time and his best recording since the great years of  Weather Report. Shorter and keyboardist Rachel Z spent some considerable time orchestrating his ideas for this new albuma and although use was made of orchestral horns and strings, most of the backing  is by a standard rhythm section (including Marcus Miller on electric bass and bass clarinet) and Rachel Z on synthesizers.
  • She Moves Through The Fair – Alegria (2003) – Wayne’s first all-acoustic studio album as a leader since 1967 – with the amazing quartet of  pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Brian Blade. The interplay between these four musicians has to be heard to be believed and some of the live material from around this period is stunning.
  • Beyond the Sound Barrier – Beyond the Sound Barrier (2005) – his last available album to date is live and features the quartet above – angular, abstract and quite marvellous.
To listen to the show click the link below
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One thought on “Aural Delights – 8th September 2011 – Focus on Wayne Shorter…..

  1. Great post… Classic Wayne Shorter albums – I love the way he uses such a small amount of melodic material to structure his compositions. His tunes are easily singable and yet harmonically complex at the same time. A genius!

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