Sunday, September 28, 2008


Saturday evening I attended the Wayne Shorter concert at Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor, MI. The concert opened the University Music Society 2008-2009 jazz concert series. Yesterday, I decided to skip the concert because I dislike Shorter's post-Mile Davis work, but I had a change of heart. It was a chance to hear the man who made a string of classic jazz albums decades ago for Blue Note Records such as JuJu and Speak No Evil just to name a few.

I hoped Shorter would play a few of those hard bop tunes he wrote as a sideman for the Jazz Messengers, and the Mile Davis quintet, but the saxophonist wasn’t in a nostalgic mood. He played material I was unfamiliar with. Imani Winds, a chamber music quartet, performed first. I'm not hip to chamber music.

That disqualifies me from critiquing Imani Winds’ performance. I will say, however, the audience enjoyed the quartet’s brief set. Shortly after Imani Winds exited the stage, Shorter lumbered out followed by pianist Danilo Perez, drummer Brain Blade and bassist John Patitucci. Shorter never introduced his sidemen or the music they played. His aloofness bothered me. I felt as if I’d crashed an invitation only party.

Shorter’s quartet performed roughly an hour without coming up for air. One composition overlapped the next. The music was undecipherable. I had to be the only person in the auditorium who disliked Shorter’s performance because when the quartet finally came up for air, the capacity crowd cheered. Then they begged for an encore, and Shorter obliged.
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