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Thursday, December 14

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Review Sat Jun 07 2008

Legends don't stay still: Wayne Shorter at the CSO

Jazz is an old artform. One that has changed over the decades, from big-band to bop to the capricious directions artists are free to take nowadays, with or without the permission of gatekeepers who deride their contributions as "not jazz." Most any musical genre has its share of arguments about what's "real" and what's not.
Wayne Shorter is really beyond all that. In a career that has lasted since the 50s, he's a saxophonist without modern peer and a composer without measure, being involved with the signature tunes of jazz greats who are on nickname basis with the music public, like Trane and Miles. His forays into world music and progressive jazz do not mark the wish of a musician to become more popular as those sub-genres have become more popular, but as someone who is merely exploring and testing his own limits. Hell, the man turns 75 soon; the dues are paid.


To a packed house last night, Wayne Shorter and his quartet exhibited this exploration and shared it with an appreciative audience. Those who know Shorter from his early Blue Note works in the mid 60s would be surprised at who strode on stage with three other very capable musicians. No hard bop. Simply the best in instrumental mastery and phrasing that heightened and lowered the mood as he deemed it.
When I tell you that the show started 15 minutes late, and he only did two compositions and an encore, the average person, weaned on popular music and a bit of jazz, may think the audience was out of there in half an hour, 45 minutes tops. No.
Shorter saw fit to bless the audience with a composition that encapsulated somewhere between 40 minutes to an hour. I didn't see that coming, and I doubt very few others did, but the magic wasn't in the specific notes he played, but in their composition, which made us really forget that, wait, he's been playing for a half-hour and there's no end in sight. No one was bored when the tune took a somber turn, as the rhythm slowed and the piano settled into notes of lament. No one was bored as the beat picked up, the bass player was picking at the strings just a bit faster, and we were hit with short blasts from Shorter's sax.
The crowd gave him two standing ovations, and after giving us almost two hours of music, he and his quartet left the stage for the night.
Those who may not have been hip to his more recent work may have been surprised, but the man has found a musical cozy chair where he's free to figure out where to go and what to explore next. And last night, we sat and listened and largely enjoyed that musical chat by the AC on a warm summer's night at Symphony Hall.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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