Wayne Shorter Quartet / Brad Mehldau at Massey Hall in Toronto
April 5, 2006
Toronto's Massey Hall has seen it all. From rock concerts to classical to typing contests and chess tournaments, Massey Hall is as diverse as any place in Canada and possibly around the world since it first brick was laid in 1893.
On April 5th, The Wayne Shorter Quartet along with Brad Mehldau for one night took over Massey Hall and reminded everyone that jazz is alive with Shorter as vibrant as ever and Mehldau taking an opportunity to quiet it down with a solo piano performance.
Glass panes line the top of the Hall giving it a church feel. Programs where being flipped through as Mehldau took the stage after an introduction from Jazz FM's Terry McElligot as a red spotlight shone down on Mehldau from above, and we knew we are were in for something special.
Mehldau may not have needed an introduction. Having been around since the early 1990s with a string of successful album most notably Introducing Brad Mehldau (Warner Brothers, 1995), he has become an up-and-coming fixture for the last ten years. Most people will point to a Bill Evans approach; Mehldau certainly came off the Evans mold that night. Head down, he played with pure emotion through his eight songs and some may have wanted to look to his left and right for Paul Motian and Scott LaFaro.
Taking a quick break for a drink, the audience applauded and received a "thanks" from Mehldau. Taking from Evans with some hints of Brubeck, Mehldau is on his way. He may be ten years on but that decade has been taken up with trio and solo recordings. No matter what setting Mehldau is in, everybody digs Brad Mehldau.
Short intermission. Brown rug added, anticipation built. The Wayne Shorter Quartet took the stage, opening with one song and thirteen to fifteen minutes of controlled improvisation. Sounding very close to Coltrane, Shorter and his quartet with Danilo Perez on piano, John Patitucci on bass and Brian Blade on drums, rolled out ninety minutes of what felt like one song, with Shorter going between tenor and soprano saxophone for brief bursts. Since leaving the influential Weather Report twenty years ago, Shorter has continued to release albums under his own name, notably the release of the live Beyond the Sound Barrier (Verve, 2005). Along with guest appearances Shorter has assembled an excellent quartet.
Brian Blade devastated the drums, Perez played in the background and held it all together, and Patitucci is, well, Patituccino more needs to be said. Ending just after 11:00 PM, the audience applauded and was obviously impressed. They had witnessed a magical night.
Shorter blew his horn and Mehldau painted us a picture, colored paned glass in our eyes, we could not see the stars in the night but for this night, the stars were in the Hall, shining bright.