Category Archives: profile

At 80, Wayne Shorter still has a story to tell

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.

Nicholas Payton: The Simple Truth

My profile of Nicholas Payton appears in the May 2013 Jazz Fest Bible issue of Offbeat, the New Orleans Music Magazine (my byline is in the magazine and will be posted on the site at some point):


photo by Golden Richard III

Nicholas Payton, now 39, has been a New Orleans trumpet star almost from the moment he first picked up the horn. The son of revered bassist, composer, and teacher Walter Payton, he was sitting in with local bands by the age of nine and touring at 12. At 20, he released From This Moment (Verve), the first of a string of major-label albums as a leader. There were plenty of side-gigs in between, including an early-’90s stint as a member of Elvin Jones’s band. Through it all, Payton has combined his reverence for the jazz tradition with a desire to forge ahead…[read more]