Wayne Shorter – Footprints Live!
(Verve – 2002)
by S.H. Watkins, Sr.
From Bitches Brew to Two-0-0-two Wayne Shorter has without question been one of the most important jazz innovators to come along in these last 40 years. Having been a member of both the legendary Miles Davis quintet and the group Weather Report Shorter has been associated with some of the most innovative, outside-the-box jazz music of our day. On the new Verve release Footprints Live! we get to travel along on a series of journeys through Wayne’s musical landscapes.
Last year Shorter toured as band leader with pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade; all band leaders in their own right. The result is this collection of acoustic Shorter originals that transcends any of the original recordings. From the anticipatory Sanctuary to the manic Footprints you’ll find yourself virtually wrapped up in the fabrics that are woven between Shorter and his crew.
Throughout the eight tracks the tone is studied and melodious, an air of mystery waiting behind each phrase. Shorter’s voice on the tenor calling out for his young lions and them responding in kind, almost telepathically leading with just the phrase Wayne needed. No electronic gimmicky here, just sweet music. Four musicians melding into their work to fulfill the musical intent while expanding the artistic interpretations, laying a new vision onto the old blueprint yet again.
It’s no wonder that many of his original compositions are standards in today’s repertoire. Teaming up with three acclaimed young musicians could have been a drawback, shifting the focus of the performances to an ‘everyone gets a solo’ kind of thing, but not here. The group became a unit and their individual talents only serve to boost the level of Shorter’s own performances. The interplay and performance here is a thing to behold. So be sure you do. The CD is on the streets May 21st, and Shorter is touring right now. Catch one of the live shows if you can. If the CD is any indication, it promises to be a great show.
For more info visit the Wayne Shorter Page at Verve Records.