Saturday, November 23, 2013

Wayne Shorter Quartet concert review

Last night I went to Massey Hall in downtown Toronto to see sax player Wayne Shorter on his 80th birthday tour. Shorter is best known for his days with Art Blakey, Miles Davis, Weather Report and many solo recordings. He recorded for Blue Note in the 60s and his new CD Without A Net marks his return to Blue Note after over 40 years recording elsewhere. And the great thing is I was almost as excited about the opening act as I was about seeing Shorter. The opening act had the nondescript name ACS. But there was nothing nondescript about their music. ACS is the all female trio of Geri Allen on piano, Terri Lyne Carrington on drums and Esperanza Spalding on bass. I am always asked about women in jazz. I guess there are folks who believe only men can play jazz and women should only sing. I don't care much about gender. I only care if women can play. And this trio can sure as hell play. Mostly they played Wayne Shorter songs as a tribute to out headliner. Of course Esperanza is more famous than the other two. But fame hasn't made her lazy. She attacks that big ol' bass as ferociously as anyone in jazz. They played for an hour and I could have listened for another hour. These girls are badass. The audience sang Happy Birthday to Wayne Shorter when he came out. He is touring with his regular band since 2000. They are Danilo Perez on piano, John Pattitucci on bass and Brian Blade on drums. All of these guys are top notch musicians and their familiarity with Shorter seems to help him a lot. They mostly played songs from Shorter's catalog. Shorter seemed to have trouble with his tenor sax. He switched to alto sax and things seemed to go a lot smoother after that. So they got off to a slow start but finished very strongly. They played for ninety minutes but it didn't seem that long. That's always a good sign. The show was as good as I expected and I was glad I got to see Wayne Shorter on his 80th birthday tour.

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