1. Entertainment
Send to a Friend via Email

Your suggestion is on its way!

An email with a link to:


was emailed to:

Thanks for sharing About.com with others!

You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Concert Review: The Wayne Shorter Quartet at Carnegie Hall

Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008 - Featuring the Imani Winds

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


Concert Review: The Wayne Shorter Quartet at Carnegie Hall
© Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images
Celebrating his 75th birthday year with a Carnegie Hall performance that featured his jazz compositions as well as a new work for wind quintet, Wayne Shorter gracefully plunged into unknown territory. With his groundbreaking quartet, consisting of pianist Danilo Perez, drummer Brian Blade, and bassist John Patitucci, the group often led Shorter, as they created rich textures into which Shorter nestled the voice-like tone of his tenor and soprano saxophones.

The Imani Winds quintet began the concert with Heitor Villa-Lobos’ “Quinteto em Forma de Choros,” a laughing and sharply contoured piece whose revolving series of moods served as a miniature model for the rest of the evening’s performance. Next came the New York premiere of Shorter’s “Terra Incognita,” commissioned in 2006 by the La Jolla Music Society. Its singing, mournful melodies, and occasional sputtering outbursts, reflected the playing of Shorter himself.

The highlight of the piece was a middle section during which each instrument played rapid and angular gestures, each improvised in terms of its rhythmic placement, as there was no determinable pulse. The disoriented, mysterious mood dissipated after a short-lived ostinato in the bassoon and horn. Both devices are common in Shorter’s music.

When Shorter’s quartet took the stage, the initial duet between Patitucci and Perez stayed planted in the same territory where “Terra Incognita” left off, with Perez creating pleasant but fragile harmony as Patitucci bowed a bouncy melody with delicate precision, matching that of the Imani Winds. Shorter’s entrance, with an unsettled and airy tone, gave the impression that it was his first time playing, something that was true in a sense, as the goal of his quartet is to create music that is entirely new with each and every performance.

Throughout the set, Perez seemed to be taking charge, dictating whether the music would be full of space and contemplative, or dense and agitated. At times the focus centered on an impromptu duet between various pairs of instrument, as the group took a liberated approach to a traditional jazz practice. The idea of soloing was also readjusted. With few exceptions, much of the time all the musicians were improvising simultaneously. There was hardly ever a sense of one person accompanying another.

This style, which injects structured ensemble playing with elements of free jazz, allows the group to explore moods and colors that are perhaps inaccessible to the more conventional small jazz ensemble. But it has restrictions of its own. During the first 15 minutes of the set, which contained loose versions of “Zero Gravity” and “Sanctuary,” the band seemed to be caught in a rut, cycling through brief periods of two moods: stately and confident, and then deliberately meager and disoriented. Later, however, the quartet broke out of the cycle, sustaining moods for longer, and developing unpredictable and compelling contours.

For the final segment of the concert, the Imani Winds joined the quartet, forcing an added degree of structure. The ensemble was restricted to steady pulses and defined sections for the sake of the wind players, who were reading parts. However, the timbral richness that resulted made up for whatever the quartet had to sacrifice. “Pegasus” was the pinnacle performance of the evening. Beginning with a newly formulated rendering of the introduction to “Witch Hunt,” a Shorter classic, the piece dove into an intensely improvised multi-paneled design, enhanced with woodwinds.

Shorter, who turned 75 this year, proved that his creative talents are as strong as ever. His current music draws from his previous work, as well as from the expansive musical territory that lies ahead.

  1. About.com
  2. Entertainment
  3. Jazz
  4. Jazz Reviews
  5. Concert Reviews
  6. Wayne Shorter at Carnegie Hall - Review of Wayne Shorter at Carnegie Hall

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.