Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
EKE BBB

Footprints

148 posts in this topic

Allen, Mike -- stop it, you guys. I've got tears running down my cheeks, and I've never even been to Japan!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK Larry - I've finished the book now. I've mined it for new facts for my chronology (just a few). It's going on the shelf.

I think it does a good job of dealing with Wayne's personality. The interviews with others - and there were many, and with the "right" people - may have helped with this, but I'm disappointed that better quotes weren't used. Mercer talked to over 75 people about Wayne and the quotes included are crap, almost all of them.

There are a number of quotes from other sources that are NOT listed in the endnotes. I can't find any logic to explain what is and isn't in the endnotes. Sloppy editing, I guess.

Again, a decent editor would have caught what I found to be a striking repetition - page 25 introduces the film The Red Shoes, which is important in Wayne's life. But every single subsequent time it is mentioned it is referred to as: his favorite movie, The Red Shoes; his favorite movie, The Red Shoes; Wayne's favorite movie, The Red Shoes; Wayne's favorite movie, The Red Shoes.

I look forward to hearing the views of other readers.

Mike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All right, I confess, I haven't really read the book - that Slugs quote is interesting, sounds like typical musician trouble, if I may say so. Slugs was the first jazz club I ever went to, at the tender age of 15 and 16. It had a lot of interesting people hanging out - apparently Genet was there about the time I was (!) and I remember seeing Mingus and Ornette on separate nights, and Mingus's son showing people his paintings. I don't know if it was a musicians' hangout, as I didn't know any musicians back then, but the price was cheap and the pressure low to buy drinks - nice little club in a hairy neighborhood (full of Hell's Angels back then) -

Edited by AllenLowe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wasn't there, but I'm pretty sure that Lee was not shot 'onstage', but during a break. The late Leslie Gourse covers the shooting in her Blakey book, in a rather interesting interview with the reclusive Jymie Merritt. Next time I come across a copy, I'll read the passage again.

I'm not sure what is meant by an unofficial after-hours hang-out. The Slugs flyer for February 1972 shows that Keith Jarrett played there the week before Lee's week-long engagement (which was supposed to end on 2/20/72), so the place was formally operating as a jazz club. According to the New Grove Dictionary of Jazz p. 902 (I believe it's the second edition), 'The club closed shortly after Lee Morgan was murdered there in 1972'.

Haven't picked up my copy yet, but I'm curious about two things:

1. Was Grachan Moncur III interviewed?

2. Is Jackie McLean mentioned at all? A thing that has nagged me for years is why, despite the fact that Wayne and Jackie hung with the same crowd and used many of the same sidemen (or were sidemen for the same artists), Alfred Lion never thought to put them together.

Bertrand.

Edited by bertrand

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good - Bertrand caught just about all the problems I have with that sentence (the others would be that the correct name is Slugs' - with the apostrophe - and whether "mistress" is the appropriate term for More - I've also heard "common-law wife" - which seems quite different). BTW, for those who weren't aware, organissimo member Marty Milgrim WAS there that evening, but left Slugs' just before the shooting.

Grachan Moncur is mentioned on 2 pages. Here are the quotes:

With this conviction, Wayne decided to pick up the tenor saxophone. He soon joined an orchestra led by Jackie Bland, which included his brother, Alan, and, at various times, trombonist Grachan Moncur III and pianist Walter Davis, or "Humphrey" - Wayne would later play with Walter in a professional setting. (p.32)

-----

[in the Nat Phipps band] Wayne was surrounded by talent: There was Nat's brother, Bill Phipps, who went on to play with Dizzy Gillespie; trombonist Grachan Moncur III, who recorded with Tony Williams and Jackie McLean in the early sixties; trombonist Tom McIntosh, who wrote for Dizzy, composing the musicians' favorite "Cup Bearers," and was a longtime associate of James Moody, himself raised in Newark. (p.44)

-----

McLean appears in the index on only one page - 232 - which means the above was missed. The later pages refers to the 1991 Miles concert -

At this concert, Miles did something that was rare for him: He looked back. The retrospective show included "Dig," a tune he'd recorded with Jackie McLean forty years before. (p.232)

------

While reading, I kept a running list of interview subjects (would have been nice if the book included one already). Here's what I came up with:

Amiri Baraka

Walter Becker

Brian Blade

Maria Booker

Terri Lyne Carrington

Ron Carter

Joe Chambers

Jodie Christian

Chick Corea

Jack DeJohnette

Dave Douglas

Peter Erskine

Curtis Fuller

Rob Griffin (engineer)

Gigi Hancock

Herbie Hancock

Dave Holland

Freddie Hubbard

Alphonso Johnson

Wynton Marsalis

Hal Miller (journalist)

Marcus Miller

Joni Mitchell

Airto Moreira

Milton Nascimento

John Patitucci

Danilo Perez

Nat Phipps

Sonny Rollins

Carlos Santana

Eddy Strickler (roadie - not in index)

Bobby Thomas

Tina Turner

Rudy Van Gelder

Cedar Walton

McCoy Tyner

Miroslav Vitous

Joe Zawinul

The task wasn't so easy because there are quotes that are uncredited - like those of Ana Maria Shorter, who couldn't have been interviewed by Mercer because she had died in 1996. The notes say: "Between 2003 and 2004, I conducted more than seventy-five interviews with various sources, and had at least that many discussions with Wayne Shorter himself." The acknowledgments begin with "All the interviewees, especially those who are not directly quoted in the book but who so richly informed my perspective."

Mike

Edited by Michael Fitzgerald

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The just-out February (!) 2005 Jazz Times, has a review of the book by Aaron Steinberg. The last paragraph of the review states:

Mercer keeps critcial interjections to a minimum-- a good thing since she tends to err on the side of overpraise, and favors tidy, oversimplified explanations.  She also helps balance the book by including comments from Shorter' peers, who offer some of the books most trenachant insights.

Well, hardly a trenchant review, but what do you expect?

From what I can tell from the discussion in this thread, the book sounds like a first draft of a better book, one which would have benefited from peer review, or being circulated amongst some jazz historians/critics who could have provided some feedback before final publication.

I'll get it when it hits the remainder lists B-)

Edited by Leeway

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not easy writing a bio on a rather uninteresting human being, particularly when the writer knows absolutely nothing about his line of work.

BTW Slugs', dear departed Slugs'...64, I think it opened, first on Sunday afternoons, the owners were friends of my father, and then they got their cabaret card and by late 64 or maybe early 65, can't remember, it became a full fledged club, THE Jazz club of the mid to late sinxties and into the early 70;s until after Lee got shot. Man, everybdy played there!!

I stopped going in 71 or so, when I got mugged outside inbetween Lee's sets.

The name comes from G.I. Gurdjieff's description of ordinary human beings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not easy writing a bio on a rather uninteresting human being, particularly when the writer knows absolutely nothing about his line of work.

BTW Slugs', dear departed Slugs'...64, I think it opened, first on Sunday afternoons, the owners were friends of my father, and then they got their cabaret card and by late 64 or maybe early 65, can't remember, it became a full fledged club, THE Jazz club of the mid to late sinxties and into the early 70;s until after Lee got shot. Man, everybdy played there!!

I stopped going in 71 or so, when I got mugged outside inbetween Lee's sets.

The name comes from G.I. Gurdjieff's description of ordinary human beings.

That's pretty interesting info about Slugs. Ironic name, too, I guess, when you consider Lee Morgan's end.

But tdo you think Shorter is a "rather uninteresting human being?" From what I've read of him, he seem like one of the more interesting musicians around. But personality aside, he has made some great music and been an important part of the modern jazz scene.

As for the biography as it stands, I guess it turned out to be a Grub Street affair, but not without some value anyway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wayne is border line mentally ill. His brother was over the line. That's why Wayne is a 'genius' and I concur. But, being around him, is pretty depressing, if not boring. Although I can't make up my mind if he's more boring than being around Keith Jarrett. Keith is the guy you're sorry you didn't beat up when all the punks in high school were beating him up. Wayne, you're always sorry, cause he's so fucking talented. Also, Wayne has a sense of humor...Keith is a pretentious asshole, probably a Republican.

PS I heard Wayne with Roy Haynes 65 at Slugs' and around 70 (?) Andew Hill called me up and said le's go to Slugs' and hear Wayne, , he's playing wih McCoy, I said no,... sorry I did.

But, it doesn't really matter, cause no one will buy the book. Does America really give a shit about Wayne Shorter?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wayne is border line mentally ill. His brother was over the line. That's why Wayne is a 'genius' and I concur. But, being around him, is pretty depressing, if not boring. Although I can't make up my mind if he's more boring than being around Keith Jarrett. Keith is the guy you're sorry you didn't beat up when all the punks in high school were beating him up. Wayne, you're always sorry, cause he's so fucking talented. Also, Wayne has a sense of humor...Keith is a pretentious asshole, probably a Republican.

I'm not sorry I didn't "beat up" anyone-what the hell is that all about?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In that case, you missed what being in high school was all about .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

no, high school was fine. just never felt the urge to beat anyone up-maybe the occasional hippie, but nothing that ever had to be acted upon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, you didn't go to high school with Sam Gincana Jr and all the wise guys kids...where you learned what life was really all about, especially if you were listening to Coltrane, while they were still stuck on Fabian.

Cheers!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think I understand your point now. just wasn't obvious to me earlier

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But, it doesn't really matter, cause no one will buy the book. Does America really give a shit about Wayne Shorter?

I bought the book.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I read this book and thought it was one of the most sensitive portrayals of an artist I've ever come across in print. I came across this forum in a google search and was surprised by the enmity directed at both the author and Wayne here. This book has been quoted out of context in this specific thread in an argument about its utter uselessness. It was never implied in the text, for example, that Shorter had not met his Japanese-American wife before his first trip to Japan. The book was however still found worthy of citation (horace silver, publishing) in another thread. I've been hearing this book highly praised among musicians, and it's well established that Mercer had Shorter's full cooperation for the biography--after meeting him on assignment for the NYTimes and NPR, hardly an accidental entree to a biographical project. The book is certainly not a musical biography in any traditional sense, but the vitriol directed at it here is unwarranted. In my estimation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd like to hear some elaboration about Wayne being "border line mentally ill".

Seriously.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not easy writing a bio on a rather uninteresting human being, particularly when the writer knows absolutely nothing about his line of work.

:rfr

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

youmustbe is not a troll. He's somebody who's been active as player/producer/prometer/label owner for many years, which is why I would really like for him to expound on that comment. Not saying I'd necessarily agree with his conclusion, but I'd like to hear his POV anyway, just to get his perspective.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

youmustbe is not a troll. He's somebody who's been active as player/producer/prometer/label owner for many years, which is why I would really like for him to expound on that comment. Not saying I'd necessarily agree with his conclusion, but I'd like to hear his POV anyway, just to get his perspective.

I wouldn't know that, I'd like him to elaborate a bit more too.

Edited by 7/4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I read this book and thought it was one of the most sensitive portrayals of an artist I've ever come across in print. I came across this forum in a google search and was surprised by the enmity directed at both the author and Wayne here. This book has been quoted out of context in this specific thread in an argument about its utter uselessness. It was never implied in the text, for example, that Shorter had not met his Japanese-American wife before his first trip to Japan. The book was however still found worthy of citation (horace silver, publishing) in another thread. I've been hearing this book highly praised among musicians, and it's well established that Mercer had Shorter's full cooperation for the biography--after meeting him on assignment for the NYTimes and NPR, hardly an accidental entree to a biographical project. The book is certainly not a musical biography in any traditional sense, but the vitriol directed at it here is unwarranted. In my estimation.

It's a tough crowd in here. :w

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Give me a break - if it's not implying something about the Japanese wives, WHY is it there? I've quoted the entire relevant passage. Nothing out of context.

Next, it's nice that you think it's a sensitive portrayal. I agree it tells a lot about his personality - but where is the discussion of his *work* - leaving aside all my comments on what's wrong in the book, how about defending what's just plain ABSENT? Refer to my earlier posts on this.

And just because the artist is involved in a book project doesn't mean the end result is going to be any good.

I hope you can distinguish between my comments and those of others here. I haven't made any personal attacks on either the author nor WS.

"Worthy of citation in another thread" - what the hell does that mean? It had a relevant quote that I mentioned. Big deal. Please don't try to imply that *my* views on this book are anything but what I have set forth in this thread. It's fundamentally an appallingly shallow book. A great disappointment. A missed opportunity. It does a good job of dealing with Wayne's personality.

How about we title it "Footprints: The Personality of Wayne Shorter" - because "The Life and Work of Wayne Shorter" is just not applicable. It's deceptive advertising.

Mike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been around the Jazz scene since Eisenhower was President, and practically every movie, tv show, book, about Jazz had been pilloried as not being a true account of the life.

Well, how can you portray people that work and live in sound? If musicians could really expound on life in words, they'd be writers. And just as in any walk of life, most Jazz musicians are not terribly interesting people. Even Miles was pretty boring to be around, as incredible a life that he had.

To write a 'truthful' bio of Wayne, you'd have to get at things in his life that he would rather not revisit. And then what? You'd get accusued of having an 'agenda', like somebody accused me on the BN board when I said that Hank Mobley was a junkie.

Most of these books, whether about movie stars, opera singers, Jazz musicians are fluff, and should be enjoyed as such.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been around the Jazz scene since Eisenhower was President, and  practically every movie, tv show, book, about Jazz had been pilloried as not being a true account of the life.

Well, how can you portray people that work and live in sound?  If musicians could really expound on life in words, they'd be writers. And just as in any walk of life, most Jazz musicians are not terribly interesting people.  Even Miles was pretty boring to be around, as incredible a life that he had.

To write a 'truthful' bio of Wayne, you'd have to get at things in his life that he would rather not revisit.  And then what?  You'd get accusued of having an 'agenda', like somebody accused me on the BN board when I said that Hank Mobley was a junkie.

Most of these books, whether about movie stars, opera singers, Jazz musicians are fluff, and should be enjoyed as such.

I think that your keyword here is "most" .. because not all books about "performers" or "artists" are of that "fluffy" nature. Perhaps it is because I am an academic who has read many incisive biographies of film people -- directors, stars, moguls, etc. -- or perhaps it is because I have also read many jazz biographies that do attempt to evaluate the artist's work within the context of his or her environment, that I find this book very unsatisfactory. Wayne Shorter is considered by many jazz scholars, and just plain fans, to be one of the most important artists in this field today (an opinion that I do not necessarily share, by the way), and as such he deserves more than the somewhat shallow treatment accorded to him in this biography.

Look, based upon personal experiences with my own work, I am always suspicious of reviewers who attack one's work because you did not write the book they wanted you to write. Yet, it may appear that that is exactly what I am doing here. Not really. An author deserves to be evaluated on what they actually wrote; and that is where this book is deficient, for all the reasons that Mike Fitzgerald indicated above. The book pretends to offer far more than it actually delivers, and for this the author, and perhaps also the editor and publisher must be faulted.

I could go on forever in presenting this quasi-intellectual literary critique; far better that you look at Mike Fitgerald's book on Gigi Gryce to see an excellent model of "what might have been." Basically Wayne Shorter deserves better, and unfortunately the publication of this particular book may preclude the publication of another, more incisive biography for quite some time ...

(As an aside ... the reviews of this book that I have read so far indicate that the reviewers are not as knowlegable or perceptive as members of this board. They appear to be ignorant of the book's serious deficiencies).

Edited by garthsj

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's fundamentally an appallingly shallow book. A great disappointment. A missed opportunity. It does a good job of dealing with Wayne's personality.

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

How about we title it "Footprints: The Personality of Wayne Shorter" - because "The Life and Work of Wayne Shorter" is just not applicable. It's deceptive advertising.

That seems like an objective appraisal right there, and a good enough reason for me to pick it up. It won't tell me everything I want to know, but it might prove to be one piece of a very large puzzle.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.