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Wayne Shorter: Without A Net

18 Mar

Iconic jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter has returned to Blue Note Records this year to release Without A Net. His first album with the label as bandleader in 43 years shows no trace of age and he is as dextrous and intelligent as ever.

The album is mostly from the Wayne Shorter Quartet’s 2011 Europe tour and as a result is a bit minimalistic. Only rarely are more than two instruments noticeable at once, but that merely gives each one space to shine. Wayne Shorter himself burns through the entire album. His lyricism is unparallelled here and his virtuosity is as undeniable as it ever was. The saxophone has had its fair share of masters and at eighty, Wayne Shorter can still stand with pride amongst them.

The album itself is consistently excellent. Plaza Real, for instance, is simply incredible. It goes all over the place and takes you along emotionally. However, although the album is extremely listenable, it is also quite complex. Unless you have some familiarity with jazz, I am afraid that this album may seem to mostly be noise. It is far from being John Coltrane’s Interstellar Space or Sun Ra’s Space Is The Place, but nevertheless is not for beginners (who should however check out our earlier article on albums to start jazz with). This is an extremely rewarding album though, and no matter your level of jazz knowledge, you cannot help but admire the technical proficiency of the quartet.

Wayne Shorter has delivered an album here that in every way lives up to the ones that came before. Hearing this, one can almost forget that it is no longer 1969. This may not be quite up to the true jazz classics, of which Wayne Shorter certainly has his fair share, this is still a great jazz album by the standard of any time.

– Nikhil

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