LIVE REVIEW: Wayne Shorter Quartet, Barbican

October 10th, 2011

From artsdesk.com

Wayne Shorter Quartet, Barbican
Legendary saxophonist in autumnal mood, but as brilliant and inventive as ever

By:Peter Culshaw

Wayne Shorter’s current band do strange things with time – it seems to stretch and bend like in some subatomic experiment featuring rogue neutrinos. Their nifty time signatures would fuse any computer. The nature of the music itself seems outside time, both echoing that modern jazz annus mirabilis 1959 and being futuristic at the same time.
Shorter enjoys quoting his old cohort Miles Davis’s more enigmatic comments like, “Do you ever get fed up of making music that sounds like music?” What Shorter and his band do is at any rate not like anyone else’s music – they use a huge palette of colours, shiveringly chromatic, atonal and rough at times – at others sweet and mournful, notably when Shorter plays his soprano sax as though summoning up the spirit world.

Shorter’s instrumental contributions to key bands like Miles Davis’s, Art Blakey’s and Weather Report would be enough to give him legendary status in jazz circles, but much more than that, he is probably the most consistently creative composer in jazz. Many of Miles’s best-known tunes were by him, like “Prince of Darkness”, “ESP”, “Footprints”, “Sanctuary” and “Nefertiti”, and he has been composing prolifically ever since.

Although he’s 78, last night’s concert, a sold-out highlight of this year’s London Jazz Festival, was all new material, to me anyway, except for what sounded like a version of “Atlantis” as an encore and a quote from Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”. At that age, you might be expecting some diminution of powers, but the clarity and range of his sax playing is as forceful as ever. Perhaps, though, from the off there was a more autumnal, wistful feel to the concert than other times I’ve seen him

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