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Wayne Shorter at SF Jazz
What an amazing couple of weeks for music in the Bay Area. Last night the Wayne Shorter Quartet opened a four night residency at SF Jazz. I often write about the inter-connectedness of music and musicians, and lineage. I am so fortunate to know and play with musicians who have played with Charlie Parker (Eddie Duran), Miles Davis and Santana (Benny Rietveld) and John McLaughlin and Wayne Shorter (Kai Eckhardt). Wayne Shorter has been at the forefront of improvised music for over 50 years. From Art Blakey, to Miles Davis (the "Second Great Quintet") to founding Weather Report, to studio work with Joni Mitchell and Steely Dan, to a solo career that started in the fifties and has now returned him to the Blue Note label - each one of these credits would be a life's work for any musician. His current quartet, with Brian Blade, John Petitucci and Danilo Perez, has been together for 14 years, and fittingly for the composer of E.S.P., they have a telepathic level of communication. As with his time with Miles (Herbie called it "controlled freedom") and Weather Report, a motif might signal a move to a different part of the composition, leaving perhaps 90% or so of the music improvised. Patitucci and Blade have monster grooves - not only poly-rhythmic but multi-cultural. Bossa funk bebop. Straight ahead salsa. Shorter has always had an oblique, zen understatement to his playing and writing, and Perez and Patitucci and Blade have mastered his language, and propel him to great heights. Randall Klein is correct that this is the finest working group in jazz, and Wayne is it's supreme living master. To be fresh and challenging at the edge of the music, at age 80, is a unique and beautiful accomplishment.