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Footprints

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I'm happy there's finally any book about Shorter-he's one artist that I know too little about

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I think this book will only be worth anything because of the interviews that Mercer did. Quite a few things will receive some attention that never got any before. The problem is that if Mercer can't get the basic things correct (names, dates, tunes, etc.) that *have* been known, will the reader feel confident about the new information that is being presented?

As I said, those basic things should be a *given*. I certainly don't want that to be the point at which the book stops. I never said that I did. I want all the wonderful insights into Wayne's mind and spirit, I want informed musical analysis of his compositions and improvisations.

Unfortunately, the musical analysis which is supposed to be included (the dustjacket says "Filled with musical analysis by Mercer" and the notes say "My musical analysis is based on study of Wayne's original scores whenever possible"), won't be found here. Then there is the thorough coverage of a very significant chunk of a career with this (p.105):

During their break from Miles's quintet, his sidemen recorded some of their finest work for Blue Note: There was Herbie's Maiden Voyage and Tony's Spring, on which Wayne served as a sideman. Wayne also played on his former Messengers' bandmate Lee Morgan's The Gigolo. And between March and October 1965, Wayne made three records of his own as a leader, The Soothsayer, Etcetera, and The All Seeing Eye, which brought his total Blue Note output to six records in eighteen months.

-----

A little follows on Alan Shorter, some quotes from Freddie Hubbard (saying that he had to practice Wayne's music) and Joe Chambers (discussing how Duke Pearson acted as a buffer between Lion and Wolff and the musicians and mentioning how Adam's Apple was somewhat commercial sounding), then a paraphrase of the Nat Hentoff/Shorter liner notes from All Seeing Eye.

Night Dreamer and JuJu are both glossed over in the space of a single page (p. 93).

So, that's six albums - seven, because Speak No Evil is NEVER discussed, just mentioned in passing (once in the Hubbard quote, where it along with All Seeing Eye are called 'some of his best records') and once related to a 1973 section (p. 154) dealing with "cause and effect" and philosophy.

Eight albums, because Schizophrenia is NEVER even mentioned at all. The entirety of the Moto Grosso Feio album reference is as "Wayne's Blue Note recording from 1970 that also was released in 1974." Odyssey Of Iska gets half a page (p.139). Super Nova does get some coverage (pp. 131-133, 140, 164, 253). But come on, this is a book ON WAYNE SHORTER - is it too much to expect discussion of the records that got him his status as a great musician? Hubbard says those records are some of his [Wayne's] best records - WHY are they his best? What's good about them? There isn't a discography, not even a list of his albums included in the book.

Eric Dolphy get this solitary mention: "Of course, there was a lot of experimental music around; artists like Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, and Eric Dolphy were reshaping jazz into entirely new forms." (p. 111) That's it. I was hoping to find discussion (at least *mention*) of the Freddie Hubbard album that Wayne wrote the arrangements for in 1963 - where he used a big band, a string orchestra, and a septet (Dolphy is in all three ensembles), but nope, nothing. I wasn't really counting on any discussion of the other time Shorter and Dolphy recorded together (the Benny Golson: Jazz + Pop thing). And no, Bertrand, there is NOTHING on Blakey's Golden Boy album, since I know you were wondering.

Sorry folks, this is an appallingly shallow book. It may be of use to a serious biographer who can find some quotes from the original interviews.

Mike

P.S. - I'm gonna SCREAM! The photos (16 pages, most very nice) include the sleeve from the "Jazz At The Opera House" LP on Columbia. Here's the caption: "At critic Conrad Silvert's farewell fiesta concert in 1982, recorded as Jazz at the Opera House. Pictured (left to right) are Charlie Haden (between two unidentified men), Tony Williams, Wynton Marsalis, Conrad Silvert, Lew Tabackin, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Pat Metheny, Carlos Santana, Bobby Hutcherson, Wayne, and Herbie Hancock. The painting behind the group was collectively created by the musicians after the show."

Jesus Christ - firstly, Lew Tabackin is the first of the "unidentified men" - the other is Jaco Pastorius - then the man incorrectly identified as Tabackin is pianist Denny Zeitlin. How hard can this be?!? Here's what you do: you get the damn record (CBS 38430) and you pull out the sleeve, you look at the exact same photo and you then look at the bottom of the sleeve where it correctly identifies EVERYONE and talks about the painting.

BTW, there's no discussion of this concert or album, not even the mention that this "farewell fiesta" was produced by Silvert as a going-away present to/from himself because he was dying of cancer (he died about three weeks after).

There's even a WONDERFUL Shorter description of the concert, from an interview when he compares it with a 1991 meeting with Miles Davis towards the end of Miles's life (which actually is mentioned at the very start of the book):

From http://www.lebjazz.net/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=244

I had once experienced something similar before. There was a writer I knew, he gave a big party for himself because he knew he only had about a month to live: he had cancer. His name was Conrad Silvert and he was a very sensitive art and music critic and he died at the age of 34. He gave a big sort of "bash" and invited musicians like Sonny Rollins, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Lew Tabackin, Wynton Marsalis, Herbie Hancock, myself, Tony Williams and Sheila was there with her father and uncle. There were a lot of people there at the Opera House in San Francisco. Also some people walked on the stage when we were playing. Carlos Santana walked in and played. And this gentleman, Conrad Silvert, had a similar type of glow which came from within. After that -- I will call it like a "fiesta" he gave for himself and the others. Maybe about three weeks later he died.

==========

Could have been included in the book, but alas, the opportunity was missed.

Edited by Michael Fitzgerald

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And that a lightweight novice writer was plucky enuf to be first outta the gate!

There's at least 25 regular contributors to this Forum -- deeply committed to jazz all their adult lives -- who would've dropped their day jobs for a year to research and complete a bio of Wayne Shorter if certain of publication.

That the first product to emerge from the chute (see: errors/problems cited by Mike Fitzgerald) has all the appearances of facile research, breezy details, and inferences about living jazz devoid of commensurate real-life gravitas of the author.

Is the premise being made that since this Shorter bio is the first one out -- it means we are required to 'celebrate' it as some sort of victory?

Is the premise being made that this inaccurate work can be justified 'because everyone makes errors'?

I care if the author was hasty and subjugated her fact-checking for the 'higher' cause of her publisher's deadline and the prestige of being first.

Until I find it as a remaindered title, I can get by re-reading my old DownBeats.

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Well, if that's all the analysis/description/commentary we get of Shorter's major output on Blue Note, then I'm sorely disappointed.

<_<

I'll withhold any further comment until I've looked at the book.

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Do tell!

It's my understanding that Jaco wasn't allowed to play (or was it just to be on the record) because having him and Wayne together would be a breach of a Weather Report contract stipulation.

I don't recall ever hearing anything of a private tape of this circulating, which is a little surprising given the incredible line-up and the fairly late date.

Mike

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Here's the Down Beat review (7/82 p.56-57) by A. James Liska:

==================

An all-star lineup of some of America's best known and most proficient jazzmen was assembled for this unique concert. The concert, created by San Francisco jazz writer Conrad Silvert, was to help Silvert defray some expenses incurred as the result of a recent illness.

The artist roster, impressive from any viewpoint, was composer of pianists Herbie Hancock, Toshiko Akiyoshi, and Denny Zeitlin; bassists Jaco Pastorius and Charlie Haden; saxophonists Lew Tabackin, Sonny Rollins, and Wayne Shorter; trumpeter Wynton Marsalis; guitarist Pat Metheny; vibist Bobby Hutcherson; and drummer Tony Williams. Unannounced instrumentalists included guitarist Carlos Devadip Santana and saxophonist Kermit Scott.

The idea was for a variety of instrumental ensembles to be created from the stable of skillful players. No musician would be permitted to play with his regular outfit. As is so often the case, things looked better on paper than they came off. During the course of the marathon concert - just shy of five hours - the audience learned why many of the artists don't keep regular musical company with each other. The flip side of the coin, however, showed musical moments so magical that one wonders why that company isn't kept more often.

Herbie Hancock, who acted as emcee and provided the primary impetus of the evening's events, made his first introduction of pianist/psychiatrist Denny Zeitlin. Unaccompanied on the acoustic grand, Zeitlin offered a delicate Cascade before being joined by bassist Charlie Haden in a quietly moving lethargy of secret title. In retrospect, the duet was a concert highlight, though anticipation of what might come lessened the effect.

The duo was expanded to a quartet with the addition of Metheny and Williams, and a bop standard, All The Things You Are, became a workable vehicle for the rather mismatched foursome. The economy of Haden was in stark contrast to the superfluous style of Metheny, as Zeitlin and Williams were left to hold down the fort. A faltering quartet moment created a magnificent rhythmic oneness from the drummer and pianist

Next up was the duo of Toshiko Akiyoshi and Lew Tabackin. Though a duo in the broadest sense, as a twosome their sound is a rarity. Akiyoshi's solo outing was a pleasant reminder of her pianistic abilities, which are often overlooked by those most interested in her compositions Tabackin joined in for a flute venture which offered more evidence of his reigning predominance on that instrument. A closing A Bit Byas'd revealed bebop roots and modern vision, with Tabackin showing himself a powerful tenor saxophonist.

During the Akiyoshi/Tabackin set, Haden, Metheny, and Williams changed musical hats. Their re-entrance was as a harmolodic trio with Ornette Coleman's music as stylistic common ground. Though deafening volume obscured much of their music, the short set was an appropriate deviation from the mainstream norm. Inappropriate, however, was the addition of Jaco Pastorius who, as seems the case of late, dominated with his stylized electric bass.

More alluring was the re-appearance of Hancock with vibist Bobby Hutcherson. Though the two have recorded together, their strictly duet performance was a brand new bag. The delightful musical exchanges on Hutcherson's Little B's Poem and Hancock's Maiden Voyage were the most magical moments of the first half of the concert. Act One of the evening ended with a 12-minute a capella venture by tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins. Though his sound was powerful and distinct, the same could not be said for his material. The self-indulgent foray was chops-busting, but ultimately unsatisfying.

The second half began with Hancock and Zeitlin's two-piano venture into Thelonious Monk's thematic material. Bits and pieces of Straight, No Chaser fell oddly into place before their quasi-prepared rendition of 'Round Midnight surfaced. Next up, an impressive grouping of Wynton Marsalis, Wayne Shorter, Hancock, Hutcherson, Williams, Pastorius, and Haden played Shorter's Footprints, and the 3/4-time riff-based tune provided several successful moments. The composer, on tenor sax, was in brilliant form, dishing out healthy helpings of inspired improvisation with Marsalis following suit. Unfortunately, much of the young trumpeter's work was stepped on by Pastorius' cliched rumblings.

The basic quintet of Shorter, Marsalis, Hancock, Haden, and Williams was subsequently joined by the other players for a variety of musical outings. Particularly memorable were Williams' Sister Cheryl and Shorter's Silence. Bebop was furiously attacked with the changes from I Got Rhythm. Shorter's Paraphernalia, reminiscent of Miles Davis Nefertiti era, was a quote-laden piece with Metheny lending guitar definition. Pastorius' Twins was the intended closer. Missing only Akiyoshi and Rollins from the roster, the jam session to end all jam sessions stumbled its way through an embarassingly immature r&b tune that sounded more like a break song than a finale. Pastorius' singing was both pointless and ridiculous, as were most of the instrumental offerings. Kermit Scott, a local tenor player who wandered onto the stage, at least provided an honest r&b feel.

At the audience's insistence, more music was delivered by Shorter and Hancock in an understated encore of ‘Round Midnight. The whole concert was taped by CBS and should be released in the spring, sans Rollins who is under contract elsewhere.

===========

Mike

P.S. - while I'm in nit-picking mode (as if I'm ever not....), Silence is not by Wayne Shorter, but rather by Charlie Haden.

Edited by Michael Fitzgerald

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For what it's worth, the often incorrect jazzdisco.org site does not mention Pastorius playing on 'Footprints'. I don't have this record, so I can't confirm this.

I was going to be near a Borders' today and I was thinking about picking this up, but now I just don't know. My worst suspicions have been confirmed. How on earth can you write a bio on Wayne and give such short shrift to the Blue Note albums; that's utterly absurd. No discography or even a list of albums? No list of compositions, even though she had one I sent her she could have just pasted in? Even Leslie Gourse had one in her Monk book, for Christ's sake. When I spoke to her on the phone, I VOLUNTEERED (note the word) to do the discography - she told me it was already taken care of. Did the publisher take it out for lack of space?

Mike is right in lamenting the absence of any mention of Freddie Hubbard's 1963 date The Body and the Soul. This record was very important to Wayne since it was his first stab at writing for large ensembles (he claims in a 2002 interview for Jazzman that Golden Boy preceded it, but I don't think that's right). And here's another take on this Hubbard album: one of the musicians told me that, in his opinion, Wayne had no idea what he was doing at this session. I would have sure liked to hear him elaborate on this viewpoint.

As for the mistakes, of course it's a big problem. Why? Because journalists and half-baked scholars for years to come are now going to repeat these errors as if they were gospel, because they will be quoting this book (which they will probably call the 'definitive' Wayne Shorter bio). It's just like the errors in the Lord; Mercer's mistakes will be repeated as fact because no one will go back and check.

I wonder if this book will turn out to be as bad as Santoro's Mingus book, which is currently my benchmark for 'bad jazz book' (with the Miles autobiography close behind).

Bertrand.

Edited by bertrand

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Mike is right in lamenting the absence of any mention of Freddie Hubbard's 1963 date The Body and the Soul. This record was very important to Wayne since it was his first stab at writing for large ensembles (he claims in a 2002 interview for Jazzman that Golden Boy preceded it, but I don't think that's right). And here's another take on this Hubbard album: one of the musicians told me that, in his opinion, Wayne had no idea what he was doing at this session. I would have sure liked to hear him elaborate on this viewpoint.

Which musician was it?

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Pastorius is very present on Footprints, in fact he solos at the end of the track just before the final melody. He is not credited on the LP.

Mike

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yow, what a disaster this book sounds like - and Mike is absolutely right - the old saying "when an elephant flys you don't worry about how long he stays up" does NOT apply here, just because we're grateful that there's a book on Wayne Shorter in circulation. This does continue the sad Santoro/Gourse line of jazz bio - glad someone mentioned Sanotoro's Mingus book, as that is THE WORST book ever written by a jazz critic with a good reputation -

Edited by AllenLowe

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Someone help me out with this one - page 87:

The youthful performances of Wayne and Lee stirred up a special fever of excitement among Japanese girls, which must have struck a deep chord in the musicians: Both soon married Japanese-American women. The entire band left the country in tears.

On July 28, 1961, Wayne married Irene Nakagami, a Japanese-American woman born in Chicago. [...] "We met, and before I knew it I was married; it was the fast lane." They had a daughter, Miyako, on August 8, 1961.

-----------

OK, now I know this is the fast lane, but babies still take nine months, right? So, from Japanese tour - last known concert is January 11, 1961 - to birth of Miyako is less than seven months. Which would mean that Shorter would have had to have met Irene *before* the Japanese tour. Which means that this "fever of excitement" and "deep chord" is all a lot of unsubstantiated - nay, clearly false - nonsense.

Or am I overlooking something?

This book (and I don't mean to imply it's the only one) could have used a competent editor. Another gaffe - anyone who's been to Newark, NJ knows route 21 is *McCarter* Highway, not "MacArthur Highway" as the book has it more than once.

Mike

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I stand corrected - the Art Blakey chronology *is* credited in the bibliography. It's filed under S for Steve Schwartz, my initial collaborator.

Mike

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"The entire band left the country in tears." Now, does this mean they were crying when they left Japan? Or that they said something to upset the Japanese people, leaving throngs of weeping Asians in their wake - and was it some mean spirited reference to Pearl Harbour? I mean, this is quite hypocritical, especially since Shorter later played with an Austrian -

Edited by AllenLowe

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Also, Mike, remember - the kid may have been a premie -

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I assume the tears comment comes from this, included in the Blakey chronology:

"We've played a lot of countries, but never has the whole band been in tears when we left. My wife cried all the way to Hawaii." - Art Blakey, quoted by Don DeMicheal in Down Beat, May 11, 1961, p.15.

Mike

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I wonder if anyone here will write a more accurate bio of Wayne-I'm sure there are lots of folks here who could. It is so disappointing to find out how shallow this book seems-I bought it yesterday but haven't had much time to do anything more than flip through it and look at the pictures so far. I'm still going to read it, despite the problems

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Well, it's not all bad: now check out this passage from the book:

"Many people have asked Shorter how the group got the name Weather Report. Shorter has pointed out that when he lived in Philadelphia in the 1950s he used to watch the Weather Channel 10-12 hours a day. This inspired him, when forming the group some years later, to use that initial exposure. At first he was unsure of what he should call it - Weather Retort? Weather Remark? Leather Resort? He went to a Gypsy woman and asked her what to do. She looked into her crystal ball and said: I see miles of footprints. I see parpahanelia. I see Japanese American woman weeping in the aisles. I see a better Morgan (suddenly lapsing into German); that is the end of my report. Whether you pay me or not I don't give a shi*."

wow, this is good stuff...

Edited by AllenLowe

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Some more excellent research from this bio:

"Few people know this, but Wayne Shorter's birth name was Edward Kennedy Ellington Duke Parker Charlie Evans Bill Lateef Yusef Lee Harvey Oswald. When he applied for membership in the Philadelphia musicians union they advised him that his name might create confusion with royalty checks. So he changed it to Irving Mills."

I didn't know this -

Edited by AllenLowe

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well obviously no one else is reading this book as closely as I am - another tidbit:

"Shorter and the group did a concert in Dallas on November 21, 1963, after which his former namesake, whom few people knew was a rabid jazz fan, sought him out for an autograph. Lee Oswald came up to him in a local nightclub, the Carousel, where Shorter was drinking afterwards, and introduced himself. Oswald asked Shorter if he knew that the President was visiting the next day. "Shoot," Shorter responded, "do I look like a depository of ignorance?" Though he never really knew if his remarks effected the following days events, Shorter has felt guilty ever since."'

Would someone please pull my computer plug before I write any more of these? I hate bad jazz writing -

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Would someone please pull my computer plug before I write any more of these? I hate bad jazz writing -

very entertaining... :lol:

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Last one, I promise - but I cannot stop reading this bio:

"It is also little known that Shorter invented one of the most famous characterizations of Miles Davis's playing. He went to visit Miles one afternoon shortly after being hired for the band. Davis was having a lot of personal problems, and his apartment was a mess, full of old food and drink and thousands of cockroaches. Shorter was grossed out. As Miles went througfh the kitchen Shorter heard a loud crunching under his feet. "Miles," he exclaimed, "this is disgusting. You're walking on eggshells."

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I'll check this book out -- eventually. I think Mike's points are well taken. THe problem always lies in the lack of research and understanding of the subject matter. Mike isn't nitpicking -- just exposing the lack of effort made into investigating, interviewing and fact checking that is necessary for writing this book. I remember eagerly buying the Grant Green biography, only to be greatly disappointed. It was more about the daughter in law (or ex daughter in law), and her relationship to the family than about the man himself. And it is not just jazz bios that this kind of lazy approach has been done -- in newpapers this happens almost daily.

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In response to Mike's question from a few posts back:

The passage about Lee and Wayne's Japanese-American wives sure is confusing - as Mike pointed out, Mercer seems to imply that Wayne's decision to marry Irene (Teruka) was after the Japanese tour.

However, I know more about this: Lee's late brother Jimmy, who I was friends with in the early nineties until his passing in November 1999, told me that the story going around was that Lee and Wayne had met their wives in Japan and that they were Japanese. Jimmy said that this was incorrect; both were Japanese-American and Lee and Wayne had met them in the states. So, as Mike surmises, this meeting must have taken place *before* the Japanese tour.

This error may come from an essay called 'The Sidewinder' in one of Al Fraser's books. He says something like: 'Lee and Wayne went to Japan with Art Blakey and fell in love with two Japanese women'.

I also have spoken to Kiko Morgan (Lee's wife) a few times, although it has been several years. I'm pretty sure she told me that she introduced Wayne and Irene (who was a friend of hers). Herbie Hancock also told me two years ago that he knew Kiko in Chicago, way before Lee did.

So what we don't really know is how Lee met Kiko, although perhaps it was in Chicago around the recording of Expoobident (10/13/60). I wonder if Jeff McMillan covers this in his Rutgers thesis; he interviewed Jimmy Morgan extensively.

Bertrand.

Edited by bertrand

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Speaking of Lee and women, here's a quote from p. 107:

"Slugs remained an unofficial after-hours musicians' hang until Lee Morgan was shot to death onstage by his mistress there in 1972."

Discuss...

Mike

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