Wayne Shorter: Without a Net

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Wayner Shorter
LABELS: Blue Note
ALBUM TITLE: Wayne Shorter: Without a Net
WORKS: Without a Net
PERFORMER: Wayne shorter (sax), Danilo Perez (piano), John Patitucci (bass), Brian Blade (drums)
CATALOGUE NO: 9795162

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No ‘net’ indeed; this is some of  the most splendidly unsafe music I’ve heard in a while, which is a triumph for this octogenarian saxophone virtuoso. And it sends out a challenge to ‘come back when you can improve on this’  for many an overschooled younger player. Shorter’s CV needs no reiteration here, but what’s interesting is not how much this album evokes his past associations but how little, despite the presence of a couple of reworkings.

Examples of the sound of surprise abound. There’s a wonky bebop harmony that suddenly resolves into tonal statements, only to immediately take-off in another direction. And there are self-subverting rhythmic figures that are all exactly right but never predictable, combined with a natural sense of pace throughout. The recording captures the mainly live set lucidly but unobtrusively, doing subtle justice to Shorter’s return to Blue Note after a 43-year absence. The cover’s weird, though. 

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Roger Thomas