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Footprints

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First biography of Wayne Shorter, written by Michelle Mercher.

Due out on November (according to Jazzmatazz )

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It's going on my Christmas list! :party:

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Good news. Overdue. Now can we hope for bios or autobios on Jackie McLean, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and how about that long-rumored bio on Lee Morgan?

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Who is Michelle Mercher?

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Who is Michelle Mercher?

hell if i know, but michelle mercer just wrote a book on wayne shorter due to be released on december 29th. ms. mercer is a music writer and a commentator for all things considered on npr and has written for times, village voice, down beat, etc.

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Who is Michelle Mercher?

From Amazon:

About the Author

Michelle Mercer is a music writer and a regular music commentator for National Public Radio's All Things Considered. Her articles have appeared in The New York Times, Village Voice, Down Beat, and Jazziz.

Here's an article from The Village Voice by Mercer:

Mercer Article in VV

A Mercer article on Uri Caine

Mercer article on Caine

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So is she a "music jouranlist" above all else?

That's what the guy who wrote the Zawinul bio was/is, and it led to a terribly unsatisfying book that was incredibly fun to read.

I'd be happier if I knew that she had some true literary skill (like not taking press clips at face value then editing/combining them JUST enough to make it seem like it's original writing/research, and fact-checking names so that Willie Maiden doesn't become Willie Nathan, and Jimmy Forrest doesn't become Jimmy Ford) and some musical acumen so she doesn't say something stupid about the music by using terms she doesn't really understand.

But wow - bios of Zawinul and Shorter out in the same year. Who'd a'thunk it?

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nyah nyah, beat ya! :P

:D

But I got in more links :P

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A Mercer article on Uri Caine

Mercer article on Caine

Did Ralph Peterson really work with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers?

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Her prose style is good, and that's encouraging. But a book is different than an article in terms of the demands it makes on a writer. In addition, tracing Shorter's career is a daunting task. Let's hope she has done a good job, as I doubt we will see another bio on him soon.

BTW, I wonder if she received a lot of cooperation and input from Shorter. OTOH, I do not want a hagiography.

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A Mercer article on Uri Caine

Mercer article on Caine

Did Ralph Peterson really work with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers?

Hmm, since he played drums, don't know how he would have fit in to the Blakey group.

All Music says:

In addition to sessions with OTB, David Murray, and the Terence Blanchard-Donald Harrison group, Ralph Peterson led several diverse and adventurous sessions for Blue Note and Evidence, all of which are recommended.

Don't have an account, so can't check their Credits section. I'll check "Hard Bop Academy."

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Egads - could we please check a REAL source? That crappy Goldsher book just used my information anyway.

Art Blakey chronology on my website.

Peterson worked in the Art Blakey Jazz Messengers big band in 1983. Also guested at two shows at the 1988 Mt. Fuji Festival (one combo, one big band.

Mike

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Michelle Mercer did get full cooperation and a lot of input from Wayne. She did get to interview quite a few people, including some from his early days. I doubt, however, that she got a hold of the person I met at Carnegie Hall in June - she was a fellow student at NYU and played one of his compositions at her final recital.

I spoke to Mercer a couple of times and never heard from her again. I did e-mail her the inventory I did of all of Wayne's compositions - I wonder if it will show up in some form in the book.

Bertrand.

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Egads - could we please check a REAL source? That crappy Goldsher book just used my information anyway.

Art Blakey chronology on my website.

Peterson worked in the Art Blakey Jazz Messengers big band in 1983. Also guested at two shows at the 1988 Mt. Fuji Festival (one combo, one big band.

Mike

Hey, at least Goldsher knew enough to steal from the best sources ;)

Thanks for the reminder about your links; of course, a great place to check discographical info.

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December 24, 2004

LISTENING TO CD'S (sic) WITH

Wayne Shorter: 'Happening,' and Meandering, a Burst at a Time

By BEN RATLIFF

THERE'S a classic story about Wayne Shorter in "Footprints," a new biography by Michelle Mercer. It's told by Hal Miller, a jazz historian who sometimes traveled on tour with Weather Report, the band Mr. Shorter played with from 1971 to 1985.

"I remember I asked Wayne for the time," Mr. Miller recounts. "He started talking to me about the cosmos and how time is relative." The band's keyboardist, Joe Zawinul, advised Mr. Miller not to bother asking the saxophonist and composer things like that. "It's 7:06 p.m.," he snapped.

Mr. Shorter, 71, may get oracular in his everyday conversations, but jazz musicians are often this way, to one degree or another. And while there is no better way to find out what's going on in their music than to ask, you have to find the right way in. Talking about music objectively, while not listening to it, is to superimpose one form over another: it pits the literary or critical endeavor against the musical. Asking a creative musician pointed questions about his discography can be dull, and asking him about the implications of an interval that he has written, or a solo he has improvised, can be nearly rude: he didn't make it to talk about it, he made it to play it.

After reading "Footprints," which may be the closest we will come to an autobiography of one of the greatest composers and improvisers in jazz, I contacted Mr. Shorter. I proposed that we listen together to something that he admired, as long as it wasn't his own, as a way into having a conversation about music and, ultimately, about his own work. ("Footprints," a new two-disc retrospective of Mr. Shorter's music, was released by Sony to coincide with Ms. Mercer's biography, which is being published by Tarcher/Penguin.)

Last month, when Mr. Shorter finished a European tour with his quartet, we got together at his home in Aventura, Fla., a thicket of tall condominium towers near the ocean.

Since going back on the road with an acoustic jazz quartet in 2001, Mr. Shorter has built up a consensus of awe seldom encountered in the stylistically splintered world of jazz. He has been playing his own compositions - from his days with the mid-60's Miles Davis Quintet to his pieces from later solo records - and reminding everyone that there is a way of writing tunes for a hardcore jazz group that have a much broader imagination. Many of his melodies, dressed in odd phrase lengths and piquant harmonies, seem to come from a rarefied place outside jazz and seem too fragile to be bruised in a nightclub setting. But they have become part of the current jazz musician's basic vocabulary.

"I've got something good for you," he said, shortly after showing me the view from the living room and pointing out where Whitney Houston and Sophia Loren had apartments. He held up an EMI Classics boxed set of Ralph Vaughan Williams, conducted by Sir Adrian Boult.

I had been expecting classical music; some of his recent works have been rearrangements, for orchestra and jazz quartet, of Villa Lobos and Sibelius. I thought he might pick Stravinsky, the bebopper's idol. But this choice made sense, too: the English composer Vaughan Williams, directly or indirectly, influenced many postwar film composers, and if there's one artistic stimulus that Mr. Shorter always seems open to, it is the movies.

Small and cheery, dressed in I'm-not-going-outside-today clothes and bedroom slippers, Mr. Shorter struggled to set up his Krell home-theater pre-amp to play a CD. I was forming a suspicion that he didn't often listen to music. "Hey, man, the Krell: you ever see the movie 'Forbidden Planet'?" he asked. "There was this planet full of people called the Krells. The explorers from Earth didn't see anybody when they arrived. But they all went to sleep one night in their spacecraft, and you hear the first sound of special effects that really came to the fore in movies - this Chrrmmm! Chroooom! And you see the ground that's been depressed by huge footprints. ..."

He first chose the opening of Vaughan Williams's Symphony No. 1: "A Song for All Seas, All Ships" (1910), with orchestra and choir singing lines taken from Walt Whitman. After the fanfare, 20 seconds into the piece, as the strings began to rise dramatically, Mr. Shorter smiled. "Life, that's what he's saying," he said. "It's a metaphor for life."

A Taste for the Heroic

It is superhero music, and Mr. Shorter is not cagey about his enthusiasms: he was wearing a blue Superman T-shirt that day. "Behold," the chorus sang out again: "the sea!" The cymbals crashed, illustrating a wave, and then the tempo fell off, the sound dispersing like spray.

"I like that," he said. "It's almost saying, 'Look at your life.' If anybody wants to commit suicide, just take a look at your life. Look in the mirror. Because we are the ship." The brass lines overlapped and grew denser. "I like that, the little line in the bass going down, the contrary motion," he said. The chorus came back again. "Power!" he said, grinning.

"I only heard this piece eight or nine months ago," he explained, motioning to the boxed set we were listening to, which he had just unwrapped. "But Ralph Vaughan Williams, I've been tracking him since I was about 16 or 17. I used to listen to a program called 'New Ideas in Music,' which came on every Saturday at noon on the radio."

Mr. Shorter grew up in Newark. His mother worked for a local furrier; his father was a welder at the Singer sewing machine factory in Elizabeth, N.J. As the biography "Footprints" tells it, Wayne Shorter and his older brother Alan had fairly radical artistic temperaments, encouraged by their parents. (Disclosure: Ms. Mercer met Wayne Shorter while reporting an article for this newspaper.) By Wayne and Alan's teenage years, they had formed their own clique of jazz surrealists, pushing their artistic temperaments to the edge of reason. In 1950, when bebop was well established but still largely a thing of mystery to high-schoolers outside of the big city, Wayne and Alan performed Dizzy Gillespie tunes at a high-school concert, dressed in wrinkled suits and galoshes, pretending to sight-read what were actually newspapers on their music stands.

Shades of 'Nefertiti'

In those days, Mr. Shorter painted "Mr. Weird" on his saxophone case, and it's still fairly true: he speaks in disjunctive bursts, frequently lapsing into silence halfway through a sentence. Sometimes you think you get his meaning and then, sadly, discover that you couldn't have been following a colder trail.

But in many ways his youth was quite normal for America in the 1940's: filled with the radio, comic books and the movies. His study, where he composes at a small desk with score paper, pen, white-out and a half-size keyboard, is filled not with CD's but with videocassettes and laser discs - everything from the Dean Martin celebrity roasts to "For the Love of Ivy," "The Bad Seed," "Quilombo" and "The Ugly American."

What he wanted me to hear next was "The Lark Ascending," which he performed both in the concert band at New York University, when he was a music-education major, and then later in the Army band during his service, from 1956 to 1958. (He was stationed in Fort Dix, N.J.)

But as I found out later, when I bought my own copy of the boxed set, there is a manufacturer's mistake in the track numbering for that particular disc. We couldn't find the "Lark," so settled instead for "Norfolk Rhapsody No. 1" (1905-6), which Mr. Shorter also likes.

A clarinet bubbles up with a little tendril of a line, following a violin line; they are complementary versions of the same melodic idea. The strings simmer quietly underneath. As the clarinet and violin gestures keep repeating, a tense feeling of stasis begins to take over. "Happening," he muttered.

Especially later in the piece, when further iterations of the line move higher, through different keys, it reminded me a little bit of his own "Nefertiti," from 1967, with the Miles Davis Quintet, which tensely repeats the same line through different keys, without a solo ever actually coming to pass. ("Nefertiti" is included on "Footprints," the new two-disc retrospective of Mr. Shorter's work.)

'You Know, the Unknown!'

"We're going to get into some Symphony No. 4 next," he said. He put on the opening of the first movement, a dramatically brooding thing. "I guess some of the early writers of movie music got this," he said, as a noirish romantic theme emerged from a thunder of kettledrums and bass trombones. "Like the John Williams music in the film of Hemingway's 'The Killers.' "

Asked if he particularly liked music that suggested something about human temperament, he responded: "Yeah! And also going" - he made a pushing-out-into-the-universe gesture - "you know, the unknown! I'll put on the scherzo."

The gremlin music of the scherzo heated up, turning into a passage of gnarled, menacing little three-note jabs-and-parries in the strings and brass. "You know that Coltrane got some of that stuff," he said, mimicking hands-on-the-saxophone and growling little phrases. " 'Duhdeluh... duhdeluh... duhdeluh.' "

Mr. Shorter and Coltrane were close; Mr. Shorter was Coltrane's first significant long-term replacement in the Davis band and he was an early and fervent Coltrane admirer, one of the first saxophonists in the early 1960's to emulate where Coltrane was going rather than where he had just been.

"It's like something from a movie! 'Titanius! Agamemnon!' " he cried, assuming an actorly baritone. "It's like Errol Flynn fighting with Basil Rathbone: chik-chik-chik!" He mimicked the clinking of swords. "This is happening, though," he said.

The music changed again, becoming less agitated and more hopeful. "And here's the seafaring stuff, the sailor thing. Or it could be astronauts. 'We need a large vehicle to get beyond this gravity and away from our decadent thinking,' " Mr. Shorter intoned.

Coltrane and Parker

When he moved to Los Angeles 31 years ago, Mr. Shorter became a Nichiren Buddhist, the sect that chants, "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo." (His commitment to the practice shortly followed that of Herbie Hancock, his partner in the great Miles Davis group of the 1960's.) The philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism - particularly the idea of the "eternal self" and taking responsibility for one's life - is the axis of most of his deep thoughts, and Mr. Shorter was speaking nearly exclusively in deep thoughts, with short pauses for the ridiculous.

"I don't really listen to music," he said, later in the day, not to my great surprise. "I listen to music when I'm making a record, I listen to what we're doing. But I don't listen to music, because there are not that many close sequences of chance-taking over any period of time. You have to wait until someone has the courage to come and jump into deep water. You have to wait a long time for a Marlon Brando."

What has he heard in passing lately that he liked? "Occasionally I will hear 20 seconds of something in a film score," he allowed. "I liked John Williams's opening music to 'Catch Me if You Can.' I like the depth and breadth of sound that he can get to reflect the vastness of something - of space. I like James Newton-Howard, too, his way of not always seeming like he has another film to score. James Horner - I liked his score for "Glory," with the Harlem Boys Choir. I like Bernard Herrmann's score to 'One Million B.C.,' the movie with Victor Mature and Carole Landis."

So, back to his comment earlier about Coltrane. Did Coltrane listen to Vaughan Williams, too? "I don't know," he said. "But like Charlie Parker, he probably listened to everything."

Did Mr. Shorter ever meet Parker? "No, but I saw him about five times. I sneaked into a theater one time, when I was about 15. The fire escape, back of the theater, mezzanine, and there was Bird with strings, playing 'Laura.' I liked Bird with strings. The word was like, 'It's a novelty, it won't last.' But Bird really wanted to work with the orchestra."

Exploring the World

Coltrane wanted that, too, Mr. Shorter said, and recalled a conversation he had had with Coltrane's son Ravi: "Ravi told me that he wanted me to write something for him, for orchestra. Trane was still alive when I was with Miles, and we performed something at Monterey, a piece for 28 pieces called 'Legend.' It would have been natural for Trane to hear about that - he was always following what Miles was doing." Lately, Mr. Shorter has been looking at semi-retirement, which means less time spent on the road and more time thinking about composing music that will include only a little of his playing - "not all over the place, just where it counts."

He has thought about revisiting "Legend" - Davis's nephew has found a tape of the concert - as well as a number of other orchestral projects. One is "Aurora Leigh," a composition he started when he was 18 and at N.Y.U. It is named after an Elizabeth Barrett Browning poem. He said he might take it to David Robertson, principal conductor of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, who wants to work with him. More recently he has begun writing original music for the soprano Renée Fleming.

"When I listen to music, I'm not thinking about the workshop aspect of it," he said. " 'Oh, that sound goes good against that one.' Boring. But, you know Elgar, who wrote something about people that he knew, characters he knew? And each theme was antiphonal? You say, 'Describe this person in music,' and he'd do it, whether the person was rotund or skinny." (Mr. Shorter was describing the "Enigma Variations.")

"I need to find out more about other people's cultures, with the time I have left," Mr. Shorter said, jumping over a conversational hedgerow. "Because when I'm writing something that sounds like my music - well, not my music, I don't possess music - but when they say, 'Wayne Shorter's playing those snake lines,' I should take that willingness to do that, that desire I have to do that, and extend it to the desire to find out more about what is not easy to follow, what is difficult to follow in someone else's life."

Thinking Another Way

Would he like to hear one more piece of music?

"Do you think that would enhance what you're writing, so people could hear through your words?" he asked, without really waiting for an answer.

"I used to think, what the hell is music for?" Mr. Shorter mused. "Like, what is law for? Is it for immediate checks and balances and controls? But then what is it really for? And music - is it an aphrodisiac, a convincer, a manacle? You know, 'I gotta have my rhythm and blues, man. ...' "

Well, is there some piece of music, or some kind of music, that has altered his life in a positive way?

"Actually, music hasn't changed my life, it's the other way around," he replied. "Somebody asked me that once, a young guy in Spain. He said, 'What has life taught you?' I said, wait a minute, think of it this way: What can you teach life?"

Mr. Shorter talked further about what he called "the human revolutionary process" and then said, "For me to be aware of something that has great value, I change my life."

I tried rephrasing the question: Is there music that embodies a value that you would change your life for?

"See, to me, the sound of music is neutral," he shot back. "What I do is arrange the dialogue, the musical dialogue, in a way that has not been spoken to me before."

Does he often hear a piece of music and think that he hears himself represented in it?

"Oh, yeah. I used to play all kinds of records, and I'd get my clarinet and get right in it. One thing I liked about Charlie Parker: he'd play that song 'South of the Border, Down Mexico Way.' That's a nice song. One of Gene Autry's hit songs. Nothing complicated, but I like it."

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Wayne Shorter as leader of the band Weather Report, at the Juan-les-Pins jazz festival in France in 1984. (Eric Gaillard/Agence France-Presse)

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Got the biography today. Just paging through it, my impression is that this is not a serious heavy-duty researched book.

For example:

Joe [Zawinul] and Wayne did manage to speak the international language of music. For Joe, their friendship was sealed when he discovered Wayne's comprehensive familiarity with classical music, even the obscure twentieth-century Viennese composer Friedrich Gulda. "Wayne and I talked about Schubert, and he could sing the lines," Joe said. "I was amazed. And then all of a sudden I began to talk about Gulda and Wayne knew about Gulda, and Wayne is younger than me! I thought, Damn, man, this guy really knows!" (p.61)

----

OK - so, I'm just not getting this. Gulda was not particularly old - he was born in 1930. So was Zawinul. Wayne was born in 1933. He wasn't particularly obscure, particularly considering that we're dealing with the jazz field, in which Gulda was dabbling - he recorded a live album at Birdland in 1956 and was quite well publicized in the jazz press. The period of time being discussed is 1958-59. What's the point here? Does the author not know about Gulda?

Dates don't seem to be a priority - Shorter worked with Horace Silver in 1957, not 1958. Typos - "Benny Golsen" and errors - photo of "pianist Jymie Merritt".

I believe that my Art Blakey chronology was consulted for some things - but I find no mention in the acknowledgments nor the bibliography. In other areas, it *wasn't* consulted, so we have Lee Morgan rejoining the Messengers in "late April 1964" when this happened in mid-March at the latest.

BTW, if you were expecting ANY mention of Shorter-Blakey activity in 1962 or 1963, you're out of luck. We go straight from October 1961 (Mosaic) to April 1964 (Indestructible).

A disappointment so far. I'm hoping it doesn't get much worse, but I remain skeptical. Shorter's involvement is certainly valuable, but I think I'm going to wish that a qualified historian were involved with this project.

Mike

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Mike,

I had mentioned your chronology to her and suggested she contact you - I'm sure she never did. She may have already known about it, I can't recall the conversation right now.

Does this book have a composition inventory in it?

How much time is spent discussing Alan Shorter? I am finding out more and more about just how much he was an influence on his younger brother.

Based on the Golson and Merritt errors alone, I am starting to get very nervous about this thing. Wayne supposedly was deeply involved - wouldn't he have caught these things?

Bertrand.

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Got the biography today. Just paging through it, my impression is that this is not a serious heavy-duty researched book.

For example:

Joe [Zawinul] and Wayne did manage to speak the international language of music. For Joe, their friendship was sealed when he discovered Wayne's comprehensive familiarity with classical music, even the obscure twentieth-century Viennese composer Friedrich Gulda. "Wayne and I talked about Schubert, and he could sing the lines," Joe said. "I was amazed. And then all of a sudden I began to talk about Gulda and Wayne knew about Gulda, and Wayne is younger than me! I thought, Damn, man, this guy really knows!" (p.61)

----

OK - so, I'm just not getting this. Gulda was not particularly old - he was born in 1930. So was Zawinul. Wayne was born in 1933. He wasn't particularly obscure, particularly considering that we're dealing with the jazz field, in which Gulda was dabbling - he recorded a live album at Birdland in 1956 and was quite well publicized in the jazz press. The period of time being discussed is 1958-59. What's the point here? Does the author not know about Gulda?

Sounds more like an issue with Zawinul's awareness; he provides the quote, after all.

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Wayne could definitely have been "deeply involved" and not caught galley proof errors, etc. because an artist or subject is rarely that involved in production minutiae.

I think that the quote from Joe shows a lot about how Joe saw Wayne at the time and is enlightening of his outlook . . . .

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Got the biography today. Just paging through it, my impression is that this is not a serious heavy-duty researched book.

For example:

Joe [Zawinul] and Wayne did manage to speak the international language of music. For Joe, their friendship was sealed when he discovered Wayne's comprehensive familiarity with classical music, even the obscure twentieth-century Viennese composer Friedrich Gulda. "Wayne and I talked about Schubert, and he could sing the lines," Joe said. "I was amazed. And then all of a sudden I began to talk about Gulda and Wayne knew about Gulda, and Wayne is younger than me! I thought, Damn, man, this guy really knows!" (p.61)

----

OK - so, I'm just not getting this. Gulda was not particularly old - he was born in 1930. So was Zawinul. Wayne was born in 1933. He wasn't particularly obscure, particularly considering that we're dealing with the jazz field, in which Gulda was dabbling - he recorded a live album at Birdland in 1956 and was quite well publicized in the jazz press. The period of time being discussed is 1958-59. What's the point here? Does the author not know about Gulda?

Dates don't seem to be a priority - Shorter worked with Horace Silver in 1957, not 1958. Typos - "Benny Golsen" and errors - photo of "pianist Jymie Merritt".

I believe that my Art Blakey chronology was consulted for some things - but I find no mention in the acknowledgments nor the bibliography. In other areas, it *wasn't* consulted, so we have Lee Morgan rejoining the Messengers in "late April 1964" when this happened in mid-March at the latest.

BTW, if you were expecting ANY mention of Shorter-Blakey activity in 1962 or 1963, you're out of luck. We go straight from October 1961 (Mosaic) to April 1964 (Indestructible).

A disappointment so far. I'm hoping it doesn't get much worse, but I remain skeptical. Shorter's involvement is certainly valuable, but I think I'm going to wish that a qualified historian were involved with this project.

Mike

Mike - I know you're all about historical accuracy, etc. when it comes to jazz scholarship. That's great, but sometimes you go too far in pointing out minute mistakes that others have made. Sure, they may have a date wrong by a month or two, but in the grand scheme of things what difference does it make, really? At least the author had the guts and passion to even contemplate writing the book in the first place. I'm not saying that someone should be allowed to write a book just because they have a passion for a certain topic, jazz or otherwise. But when books like this one come out, we should give the author the benefit of the doubt. Small mistakes such as the examples that you point out are bound to occur; hopefully in future printings (if they come about) they will be corrected.

The quote about Shorter's extensive musical knowledge beyond the jazz realm seems quite valuable to me. I think you're reading too much into the particular dates (ie. when the musicians were born, etc.). The point of the Zawinul quote was to illustrate the fact that Shorter was deeply into music of all kinds and had this kind of knowledge at his fingertips. Also, he was still fairly young at the time and Zawinul was impressed by Shorter's knowledge at that stage of his life.

Edited by pryan

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The kinds of mistakes I pointed out are things that stick out - because they're black or white. Not gray. Getting those things right is the bare minimum. If you can't be bothered to do that, I have doubts about the bigger things.

If someone is going to the effort to write a book on Wayne Shorter and only Wayne Shorter, that book should be unimpeachable in terms of facts of his life. If someone wants to know when Wayne did something, that book should supply the answer. This book fails on that.

The album "Africaine" (which issued Shorter's first session with Blakey) is treated as if it had been issued at the time (1959). In fact, the album didn't come out for two decades.

There is no composition index. The endnotes, such as they are, only deal with quoted material, not with the sources of factual information. The index is pathetic, listing some mentioned tunes, not listing others which are mentioned in the text. Larry Kart does get a mention! But nowhere does it tell us that Mama G is the same tune as Nellie Bly, even though "both" tunes are mentioned in the text.

There is some info on Alan Shorter. Haven't yet determined how much. Certainly more than in any other book.

Yes, Zawinul made that comment, but how it's placed and the importance it's given is the responsibility of the author. Some context needs to be given. Describing Gulda only as "the obscure twentieth-century Viennese composer" is quite innacurate and it gives ME the impression that the author doesn't know enough about Gulda.

Mike

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Should a book of this sort be sound, factually? I think so, but when you use words such as, "unimpeachable", it creates a kind of perfectionist ideal that only a select few authors can attain. I think you (and other Shorter fans) want something of an "unimpeachable" nature, but this kind of thing is damn near impossible, as far as I'm concerned. Your premises/reasoning in the second paragraph indicates that this is something "you" believe the book should address (ie. this book should give the reader an authoritative version of Wayne Shorter's career and life). Perhaps the author had other ideas. Who cares if those two tunes that you mention are actually one and the same.

What I'd be looking for in a book like this is information or anecdotes about Wayne the person/musician. What is he about, spiritually, mentally, musically. Mixing up a couple song titles is no big deal. Are we going to remember the names of the songs or the person who wrote them? Are cold, hard facts more important than what's inside a person's heart and soul? The answer, for me at least, is obvious.

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