The Wayne Shorter Quartet’s “Without a Net” (Blue Note) begins with a rumble — four notes repeated deep in the piano’s bass register. Jazz fans will recognize the phrase as from Shorter’s iconic composition “Orbits,” from the 1967 Miles Davis release “Miles Smiles.” On that record, the song is bright, fast, and fleet. But here Danilo Pérez’s piano introduction is dark, ominous. Bassist John Patitucci joins Pérez, then Shorter enters on soprano sax, offering the tune’s second phrase. Before long, the band (with drummer Brian Blade) is off on a lyrical improvisation, the darkness having cleared, that first phrase a recurring reference point in a collective dream.
Shorter has led the band for 12 years now, and some would argue that — in a legendary career of pathbreaking writing and playing — it represents the height of his achievements. Next Saturday the quartet will be one of the headliners at the Newport Jazz Festival… to read more, click here.
This piece ran as a preview to the Newport Jazz Festival on Friday, July 25.