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Wayne Shorter: The Man and the Legacy

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That?s one thing that is missing in jazz, allot of color, that?s where synthesizers kind of miss the point. We have so much electricity in ourselves, we can?t live without that kind of discharge.
During our conversation- shared just as he was preparing to put the finishing touches on his ideas for his upcoming show with the SFJAZZ Festival in October- Wayne revealed his sincere feelings towards his life, his music, his friendships and, his respect for the many world-class musicians with whom he has collaborated with throughout his impressive career; and we explored his evolution as an artist and these relationships, and his passionate commitment to spirit of the music, life, and his spontaneous, improvisational approach.

All About Jazz: Your Footprints Live! (with Danilo Perez on piano, John Patitucci on Bass, and Brian Blade on drums) is your only live CD and it's all acoustic, can you compare this CD to some of your earlier work with groups such as Weather Report (where you collaborated with Joe Zawinul on material)?

Wayne Shorter: The biggest difference to me, was, one was electric and the other was acoustic, one was in a different space and time, and the other was in a current time and space. Weather Report had different personnel at that time and space, with different stories to tell, with a different form and space on the page to tell the story.

AAJ: The compositional process was different between you and Joe on Weather Report, what was the concept with the Footprints Live! CD?



WS: There's a compositional process on a live performance, the composition meaning...what comes about, once it's done, it's a composed piece. The personnel on Footprints Live! mainly were at liberty to extend themselves from where the were formally accustomed to playing with their own groups. They then extended themselves from those kinds of situations to a place where...they didn't have to think about a group or the personalities they were in their own group, (where they were band leaders)...it was a true collaboration.

AAJ: That's right, Danilo, John and Brian all have their own groups...so when you guys got together, you were more spontaneous with the music?

WS: Yes, they didn't have to think about looking for a sound, or looking for a musical signature...they were composing something with the knowledge and feeling they had about the piece.

AAJ: How did you hook-up with Danilo, John and Brian...how were they chosen?

WS: I knew that John lived in New York, he moved from California to New York, and I had heard about Brian Blade for sometime, and I saw Danilo on television the first time with Dizzy Gillespie a while back, and then met him in Washington, D.C. and then, slowly began to hear him (Danilo) perform... like a spot check kind of thing, I wasn't checking him out...but after meeting someone, I kind of...in my mind, initially threw the colors together of how these guys would sound together, I was thinking: 'I think this is going to work'.

AAJ: All of these guys are interested in telling stories with their music, kind of like the way you seem to approach allot of your material...

WS: Yes, that's true, I thought it was going to work without an extended rehearsing process. The first concert we played together we had no rehearsals.

AAJ: That must have been interesting, one of pieces, 'Aung San Suu Kyi', was something you wrote back in 1952 while you were in a modern harmony class in college at NYU. You pulled this out for this CD. And also 'Sanctuary', the title track, what was your concept behind these pieces and the others on the CD?

WS: Have you read Edith Warton's 'House of Mirth'? Well, it was in one of her early editions, in her introduction, she talked about concept, the way in which concept is used...it covers so much...I mean people go to court over concept...Coppola tried to stop Carl Sagan's concept. Sagan had his concept for his movie since he was fifteen years old. And then I hear people saying whose concept it is with some on the Beatle material...whose concept in the world we live in, the degree of blame, etc...in reverse, it's like who is the achiever and 'concept' seems to be a lead-in to ratify ownership of the initial idea.

AAJ: 'Sanctuary' seems to be hinting of something coming down the road, it's starts slow and then builds, it sets up a story for the rest of the CD...

WS: Yes, that's right. I'm laying into this concept discussion so long, because it could be the topic of another whole interview, people are always looking for the impetus between something tragic to something blissful...and what is missed is something called 'cognizant', so with this CD, that why I had no rehearsals, I didn't want any concept or thought process to get in there, more than it has historically...

AAJ: So you wanted to leave it wide open?

WS: Yes...It was like...to grasp something all by oneself, it leaves a person with their own decisions (along the way). Many people believe that their tastes are their own, they will die for this sometimes, you know, I don't like this, I don't like that...so like a story with no beginning and no ending...it was always there, even when it was just a twinkle of an idea in somebody's eye.

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