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Wayne Shorter's Without A Net on the Blue Note label

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ok, emperor is wearing a see-through top and no skivvies.

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I'm arrogant enough to think I know what this band is doing, and I have the other albums. I don't listen to them much, there's just so much to listen to, and these aren't my favorites of Wayne's. I'll get around to the new one soon.

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Poor Wayne, so many people haven't really "approved" of his new works for almost 40 years now, and he still keeps moving ahead anyway. You'd think he'd have learned by now that he's got nothing left to say and/or that he used to be somebody.

All this music he's been making, the stuff that keeps finding new forms and colors and group aesthetics, it's all just....THE DELUSIONS OF A MAD MAN!!!!!!

Poor Wayne. I guess he's too far gone by now. I'm sure that music will eventually ignore him, just as he has ignored it.

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Who's saying that?

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All respect but zero interest.

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Who's saying that?

Not you, but...I've heard this "what the hell happened to Wayne" talk for almost as long as I've been actively listening to jazz, and....it's silly, really.

What happened to Wayne? Nothing, really, he's just kept on being Wayne. It's not like he's a pet or something who's expected to stay by your side and be loyal at all times, ya' know. And it's not like he all of a sudden started playing badly and writing trite music for sitcom themes or something like that. Quite the opposite.

So, yeah, Wayne be Wayne. Same as it ever was.

All respect but zero interest.

5 stars for demonstrating the ability to separate the objective and the subjective and also combine them into a single thought.

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Okay, but through time immemorial artists both grow audience and grow away from one, it's just part of man and his interaction with culture. He's making the living he wants I bet. More power to him, and it's probably even better for him to be less popular now. I'm less popular now and better for it! :)

Edited by jazzbo

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Yeah, I get people not liking this stuff, or the electric stuff from earlier, or whatever, not everybody relates to everything, but the music itself....there is no slacking going on there, ever. The guy's always been moving in one direction or the other, and he's been consistently precise in doing it. No guesswork or easy solutions or haphazard "close enough"-ness. Wayne ain't going for the okie-doke in his own music, ever. If somebody doesn't like it or can't follow it, hey, c'est la vie, different strokes, all that. But it ain't because Wayne ain't doing shit, that much is certain.

And fwiw, I've known people who thought/think (some are dead now, some aren't) that Wayne was bullshitting from Day One, in his Blakey & Vee-Jay days. For real!

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I think there is the certain level of group think that goes on with some fans and namely the press, with the kind of reception the new album is getting. Wayne's first album in 8 years, the mythic return to Blue Note , etc. There are many others like it too with the hype, that if people don't like it, they get chastized. I know I haven't gone in to the ECM groupthink section for example, when I've tried it fails!! But regarding Wayne, the music, the band, this album and the NPR first listen, I genuinely enjoy it. I love the last comment Jim that you said people you know thought Wayne was BS'ing with the Messengers and such. THAT's funny. "Lester Left Town", is not a tune that makes compromises, neither is "Elegant People" or any other tune Wayne wrote. Those accusations about him remind me of Pat Metheny, sure some of that music is slick on the surface, and shiny, but no tune of his has ever made a compromise either, it's all been worthwhile, at least for me.

Edited by CJ Shearn

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Yeah, I get people not liking this stuff, or the electric stuff from earlier, or whatever, not everybody relates to everything, but the music itself....there is no slacking going on there, ever. The guy's always been moving in one direction or the other, and he's been consistently precise in doing it. No guesswork or easy solutions or haphazard "close enough"-ness. Wayne ain't going for the okie-doke in his own music, ever. If somebody doesn't like it or can't follow it, hey, c'est la vie, different strokes, all that. But it ain't because Wayne ain't doing shit, that much is certain.

And fwiw, I've known people who thought/think (some are dead now, some aren't) that Wayne was bullshitting from Day One, in his Blakey & Vee-Jay days. For real!

Wayne's an artist. Pure and simple. If musicians spent their time managing our expectations of them there would be even more crappier music today than there are already.

Edited by Stefan Wood

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The funny thing about the current group is that conceptually it started taking off where the very earliest Weather Report left off, just with acoustic textures & with Wayne as the "dominant" driver (or if you like, alpha Male :g ) instead of Zawinul. so it's not like nobody's ever even though of doing anything like this before. But those are big differences in how the results turn out and in what direction they've eventually gone. For me personally, I think it's a great way to think and play, to have reference points (i.e. - compositions) in place as reference points without ever needing to explicitly mark them out as you go along or even having them unfold is a set order, or even to exist as "this, now this, now this". You can have "this and this, then this while that but be ready to bring this in too, or to take it out" and so on.. Structural fluidity to the max. And that's not a really "new" concept either, but this group of players and this group of material does end up being quite unique and, if they hit their zone and the listener is in theirs, exciting. I get how it might be too "abstract" for some folks, but hell, jazz itself, any of it, is too abstract for a lot of people. Oh well!

So yeah, I've got this pre-ordered, and yeah, I'm looking forward to hearing it. I've never not looked forward to hearing what Wayne's got to say now, even if some of it is more gripping than others. None of it has ever been even remotely cheap or worthless. It's always made sense to me, both the "what" and the "why". So if I say that Footprints Live grabbed me more than Beyond The Sound Barrier, all that's saying is that on the former, we were more in the same place at the same time than on the latter, which is, of course, always as subject to reexamination and redistribution as this music itself is.

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One more thing...I've gotten less and less determined to have music as I "like" it in order to "appreciate" it. This in regard to some of the comments about certain players in this band...I've heard the group live just once (fairly early on at that), but, you know, shows circualte these days...and this music is all about making choices of the moment in the moment, and I've never heard any of the individual players make a choice that just fucks everything up, ya' know, brings everything to a screeching halt or throws everybody off so much that pfffllllttttt the whole thing goes. Seems to me that everybody is attuned enough to everybody else that whatever input comes is taken in with an implicit, deep trust, which in improvisational music is a much more rare - and ballsy - quality than might be imagined. Even "pure improvisers" have comfort zones...

Just sayin' - different players might make this band different, but different would not necessarily be better. Sometimes "it is what it is" is more valuable than "it's not what it should be", especially if "it is what it is" is what everybody involved collectively wants/needs it to be.

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"Whether Wayne Shorter's music lives up to your standards or not means about as much as a bicycle does to a fish."

-Marcus Miller

I don't know if this quote is real, but it's relevant.

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Howard Mandel has an interesting review of a recent Shorter concert: http://www.artsjournal.com/jazzbeyondjazz/2013/02/1218.html

Haven't felt the urge to keep up with Shorter's CDs but I feel a lot like Howard about what I've heard of him in recent years: Shorter's phrasing isn't very often interesting any more. Nothing wrong with free forms if the improviser has something interesting to offer. His quartet's spontaneous-ensemble theme recalls are far from unique or innovatory.

Come to think, Shorter's phrasing in itself never was consistently inspired - the way he used to create tension in his solo forms was what made him so outstanding. Maybe his recent minimalism is his idea of doing away with the solo in favor of making a group statement? Maybe that's why Blade feels the need to fill in the spaces, to keep things interesting? Maybe I'm a fuddy-duddy?

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"Whether Wayne Shorter's music lives up to your standards or not means about as much as a bicycle does to a fish."

-Marcus Miller

I don't know if this quote is real, but it's relevant.

I also don't know if the quote is real, but it sure is true!

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different players might make this band different, but different would not necessarily be better. Sometimes "it is what it is" is more valuable than "it's not what it should be", especially if "it is what it is" is what everybody involved collectively wants/needs it to be.

:tup

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"even 'pure improvisors' have comfort zones" True dat, and not necessarily a bad thing.

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Just sayin' - different players might make this band different, but different would not necessarily be better. Sometimes "it is what it is" is more valuable than "it's not what it should be", especially if "it is what it is" is what everybody involved collectively wants/needs it to be.

Yeah, that post really bugged me. It was like a kid trying to trade baseball cards to get his dream team. Unless you want to be a producer or a bandleader and handpick a lineup for a recording or a working group, respectively, you really have no business second-guessing why a group of musicians are playing together--especially a group of this caliber. It's fine if you don't like what they play, but I found the "analysis" of a better group quite bizarre. Shorter knows who he wants in his band and how he wants the music to sound. Take it or leave it. I'll take it because it's a language that speaks to me in a new way.

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One more thing...I've gotten less and less determined to have music as I "like" it in order to "appreciate" it. This in regard to some of the comments about certain players in this band...I've heard the group live just once (fairly early on at that), but, you know, shows circualte these days...and this music is all about making choices of the moment in the moment, and I've never heard any of the individual players make a choice that just fucks everything up, ya' know, brings everything to a screeching halt or throws everybody off so much that pfffllllttttt the whole thing goes. Seems to me that everybody is attuned enough to everybody else that whatever input comes is taken in with an implicit, deep trust, which in improvisational music is a much more rare - and ballsy - quality than might be imagined. Even "pure improvisers" have comfort zones...

Just sayin' - different players might make this band different, but different would not necessarily be better. Sometimes "it is what it is" is more valuable than "it's not what it should be", especially if "it is what it is" is what everybody involved collectively wants/needs it to be.

But do you think they are taking big risks? The kind of risks that have huge payoffs a lot of the time but can also result in big mistakes/train wrecks?

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What kind of payoff? The kind where the jazz audience stand up and cheer; where critics proclaim instant classic? Does risk taking necessarily mean that one has to fail first?

One of the reasons why I like this quartet so much is that collectively they are more interesting and dynamic than as individuals. In some ways Wayne has the leader role that Miles once had, but on his own terms.

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One more thing...I've gotten less and less determined to have music as I "like" it in order to "appreciate" it. This in regard to some of the comments about certain players in this band...I've heard the group live just once (fairly early on at that), but, you know, shows circualte these days...and this music is all about making choices of the moment in the moment, and I've never heard any of the individual players make a choice that just fucks everything up, ya' know, brings everything to a screeching halt or throws everybody off so much that pfffllllttttt the whole thing goes. Seems to me that everybody is attuned enough to everybody else that whatever input comes is taken in with an implicit, deep trust, which in improvisational music is a much more rare - and ballsy - quality than might be imagined. Even "pure improvisers" have comfort zones...

Just sayin' - different players might make this band different, but different would not necessarily be better. Sometimes "it is what it is" is more valuable than "it's not what it should be", especially if "it is what it is" is what everybody involved collectively wants/needs it to be.

But do you think they are taking big risks? The kind of risks that have huge payoffs a lot of the time but can also result in big mistakes/train wrecks?

Yes? No? Maybe? Sometimes? If opportunity presents itself? Size of reward not always related to size of risk? Surviving is the biggest risk of all?

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Got my copy in the mail yesterday, listening to it now, and am actually a bit surprised how non-abstract it is...everything is pretty much there to follow. A lot more so than Beyond The Sound Barrier, which I found to be maybe a little more "esoteric" than I felt like dealing with.

Blade doesn't sound "loud" to me nearly as much as sounds like he's opened up his time and loosened his attacks. It could be heard as a little "sloppy" I suppose, but to me it sounds like he's not been immune to being touched by the "beat" culture, the way that a lot of hip-hop stuff will just slop everything up on purpose just to show you that, yeah, we can roll it this fucked-up and STILL keep it together. Not that that's all I'm hearing, but...why wouldn't somebody be touched by that?

Wayne's "minimalism"? I'm not hearing it. I'm just hearing a whole helluva lot of clarity. Not just from Wayne, either, but from everybody. Clarity is not alwasy "surprising", but, rare as it is, it can be startling.

The way this band sets up big monolithic chunks of time and Wayne engages them from all angles with all sorts of dramatic parries and flourishes while Double Agent Blade shadows and counters him while at the same time reinforcing the blocks is really...fun. Maybe this is what opera fans get out of opera. I'm not an opera fan, but this does the trick for me just fine.

Otherwise, this is the zone where Wayne has been for the last 30-35 years or so, this whole thing of interlocking movements that ultimately form a solid, although at any given moment they could turn into individual parts that leave holes, sometimes GIANT holes in that solid, but never permanently. I guess on the one hand it could be viewed as "mechanical", but otoh, all life is a set of of various systems that ultimately work together, so..who are we to argue with the way life works? :g

Bottom line for me - no, I don't think this is a "radically brilliant" record or any of that hype. I do think it's another damn fine program of damn fine Wayne Shorter music (which is, for me, always brilliant, but radical only if you consider rightness radical...). If you're not fully invested in Wayne Shorter The Non-Blowing Jazzman by now, this won't change your mind. And if you are, it will probably/certainly make you feel good about your decision.

Either way, make sure to hear what is actually being played, not just what it "sounds like".

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First thoughts, through piece #4: Wayne remains a lovely player of the soprano (one of the few); Perez's responses/own ideas are fairly obvious I thought -- wonder what Wayne would sound like with a stylistically compatible but more subtle and adventurous pianist (IMO) like Marc Copland. The group interaction strikes me as rather studied/careful (very much with a net-like), especially when things get "hot." I'll keep listening.

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he group interaction strikes me as rather studied/careful (very much with a net-like), especially when things get "hot."

I don't get that as much as I do "self-contained". It's a band that's been playing together on and off for quite a while now, so you have the possible/perceived double-edged sword of developing your own internal language and at the same time having people - audiences and band alike - hear it often enough to start to get comfortable with it, and all that follows from that.

So...always play with different people who make it always different and never get the wholeness that comes from having a band/family or else have that and sacrifice the "always" new. Not sure if there is any one "right" choice there...

People didn't used to have to worry about that, there were always bands. People used to yearn to be in bands. Now everybody's keen on "projects". The whole "project" vs "band" thing...not sure but that I'm still a "band" guy at heart.

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I'd like to hear Wayne with Marc Copland. Shorter is getting on in years, I'd like to hear him record more often.

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