Wayne Shorter Quartet
Without a Net


4.0
excellent

Review

by Hernan M. Campbell STAFF
February 7th, 2013 | 22 replies | 2,301 views


Release Date: 02/05/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Freedom to roam.

The beauty about genres like avant-garde jazz is that they offer the musicians an open canvas. It offers a freedom from conventional harmonies, which indulges the artist with the ability to take their music not where it needs to go, but where it wants to go. There's a rhythmic flexibility that allows musicians to improvise under a less constraining environment. Wayne Shorter is no stranger to the experimental side of jazz such as the avant-garde, free, and modal scenes, and in fact, it's where his craftsmanship as at its most intuitive. Albums like The All Seeing Eye and JuJu are all about exploring different techniques with compositional methods, there's a lot of impromptu maneuvering happening in the songs, giving them a more heightened sense of spontaneity. His latest output, Without a Net, is an expansion on that style, it doesn't really introduce any places he hasn't gone before, but it does showcase a stellar performance that offers the veteran saxophonist's signature flare.

Without a Net captures the performances from a 2011 European tour with his latest quartet. This is an all acoustic set, and thus tends to alternate through styles like post-bop, modal, free jazz, and of course, avant-garde. With musicians like pianist Danilo Pérez, bassist John Pattitucci, and drummer Brian Blade at Wayne's disposal, he introduces new material and versions of older works throughout the concert as well as a few covers for added intrigue. The album kicks off with the quartet's rendition of "Orbit", originally from Miles Davis' Miles Smiles. The song opens with Danilo Pérez playing the melodic theme from the piece, only with an almost menacing tone in the execution of his notes. The group initially takes its times with the tempo pace, rather than the 'get-up-and-go' attitude of the original. It isn't until Wayne Shorter steps in with some invigorating solo work, that Brian Blade begins to erupt in the background to stimulate the rhythm and elevates the piece into a display of instrumental ferocity. The album's modal spin of "Orbits" is definitely a far cry from the more bop-oriented style of the original, but it's a very intriguing interpretation because each musician has more space to roam and which inevitably makes their notes appear all the more organic and less mechanical.

"Starry Night" is where the quartet starts to focus on some conventional melodies, but even then, there's a more abstract agenda that drives their musical intentions. Danilo Pérez takes the spotlight for most of the song, and though his notes are restrained and exude a calming mood, his movements are mildly erratic in nature. He's not deliberately trying to convey an emotional ambience, that's not the purpose here, he's really just exploring the dynamics of the keyboards and manipulating the pace of the rhythm with his own direction. There's no real framework here, and in that sense it further expands on the 'free' concept of the album. Wayne Shorter's saxophone expressions, on the other hand, are more melodic. His notes are so exquisitely soothing to the ear, it's the kind of playing that you'd find in a jazz lounge as background music. Though the preference for melodic flow rather than strong rhythmic impact comes to a complete reverse during the later part of the song.

There's really not much to say about this concert in terms of Wayne Shorter's progression as an artist, he's still at the top of his game, but there's nothing here he hasn't already shown us in the past. Sure, it's always exciting to see him perform some harmonic explorations and rhythmic fluctuations, but after being exposed to the same modal executions and overall musical motifs that we've seen him venture through again and again during the acoustic days outside of his time with The Weather Report, his repertoire eventually gets rather predictable. The musicianship is still a spectacle of amazement though, no doubt about it. Luckily, Wayne Shorter & co. don't always sound stagnant throughout and actually get into plenty of compelling jams. The 23 minute epic, "Pegasus", is something that definitely shows off some breathtaking ingenuity, as it features exaggerated dynamics that constantly keep elevating the musical structures into new stylistic dimensions. "Pegasus" is actually a recording from Wayne Shorter's performance in Los Angeles where the quartet was expanded to a nonet with the five-piece, Imani Winds, thus giving the song an orchestral feel.

The opening segment of "Pegasus" exhibits Wayne Shorter's soprano expressions coalesced with various flute arrangements from Imani Winds. This is a very classically influenced section of the piece, it has a very light tone, and the wind instruments seem to feed off each other's synergy as they float along a dramatic melody. In the midsection, we start to see the band having a bit of fun with the piece as they start to enthusiastically push "Pegasus" back and forth from a beautiful array of sounds and into a technical setting that emphasizes on virtuosity. It's a very exciting centerpiece and if there was only one reason to pick up this album, "Pegasus" would be it. Overall, Without a Net is yet another impressive addition to his already illustrious catalogue, but it's certainly nothing that is all that eminent. As I said before, there are some exceptional pieces to be found here, but they seemed to be wrapped in an all too familiar packaging. That isn't to say that this album is just a rehash of old tricks, it's just that it lacks anything that will come as a major surprise. But even still, it's inspiring to see Wayne Shorter yet to lose his grasp on the charismatic style that has made his albums so enticing. This is definitely a nostalgic offering to fans, something that takes us back to the revolutions that 'acoustic' jazz was going through in latter part of the 1950s to practically the entirety of the 1960s. In a nutshell, Without A Net is an unconventional and adventurous album that embraces the nature of modal and avant-garde that blossomed a whole new perspective to the genre.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
YoYoMancuso
February 6th 2013



10997 Comments


Oh sweet. I would pos but i don't think i can pos contributor reviews anymore

mindleviticus
February 6th 2013



8199 Comments


Great review as always, man. Love me some jazz. Check out:

"Jerome Sabbagh - Plugged In" it rules. Here's a song from the album:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68F9MnSgM5g

I posted this on the other one. Just spreading love I guess haha.

Calc
February 6th 2013



12114 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

dood, album is good

Digging: He Is Legend - Heavy Fruit

tommygun
February 6th 2013



24176 Comments


WHERE IS THE POS BUTTON I WANNA CLICK THAT SHIT HARD

Digging: J Mascis - Tied to a Star

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
February 6th 2013



4400 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks for the feedback guys.

@Mindle
That song was fantastic, I've never heard this guy before. The theme that the piano and drums play has such an infectious melody. this is one serious album, I need to have this. Thanks.

@Tommy
Are you going to review the next Bowie album, man? I'm dying to read another one of your reviews.

Digging: Shabazz Palaces - Lese Majesty

tommygun
February 6th 2013



24176 Comments


haha really? mine are all just track by track in disguise!

I'm willing to give it a crack because I'm really looking forward to the album but I'm hoping the other tom (major tom) reappears to cover it cos his bowie discog is stellar

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
February 6th 2013



4400 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"haha really? mine are all just track by track in disguise!"
- I'm guilty of that myself from time to time. But your reviews are actually well-written, I enjoy your work. Plus you're a bowie fan so the review will definitely kick ass if you were to do it. Whose major tom by the way? I dont think I've seen him around.

mindleviticus
February 6th 2013



8199 Comments


No problem and definitely get it. The only gripe I have with it is the guitar noises are kind of annoying but that's just me. You might really love it.

tommygun
February 6th 2013



24176 Comments


thanks man I appreciate that

I must admit my knowledge of bowie's stuff after early 80s is basically nothing!

his username is Tom93M or something and he reviewed basically the entire bowie discog a while back, not a very prominent poster and I think he might've dropped off the radar lately but yeah a good writer and a nice guy

tommygun
February 6th 2013



24176 Comments


dude I'm so pumped for your 100th when are you gonna drop that bomb on us?

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
February 7th 2013



4400 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@Mindle
I'll look into it, that song was seriously good. That was a really good find.

@Tommy
I might sneak my 100th it in quickly tomorrow, because I still have Graveyard's album and another request to do this week. I can't decide what though, I might do The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds or The Zombies' Into The Afterlife because I've been jamming those a lot lately. I dont know.

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
February 7th 2013



6079 Comments


for your 100th you should do your favorite album of all time if you haven't yet reviewed it.

otherwise do one of your 5s!

Digging: Your Old Droog - Your Old Droog

WeepingBanana
February 7th 2013



10078 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

d/led this. gonna listen soon

atrink
Contributing Reviewer
February 7th 2013



2844 Comments


If there's one genre i want to get into more it's jazz. Sure i listen to the occasion miles davis when i'm doing homework, but that hardly counts. lol But solid write up

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
February 7th 2013



4400 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nice, mate. Jazz is great once you start to appreciate it more. I'd say look into bebop and cool jazz as those are the most accessible. Look up John Coltrane's 'Blue Train'- I'm more into fusion, but that's singlehandedly the best Jazz album I have ever heard.

CaptainDooRight
February 9th 2013



28693 Comments


dam gotta check this

also, why is there no pos button

edit: paper for site owner, ok ok, we'll do mod for now

Digging: Tukaaria - Raw to the Rapine

CaptainDooRight
February 9th 2013



28693 Comments


whoa this shreds, those drums and that restraint. Amazing mmm bass quiffs

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bkewiFES7vI

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
February 9th 2013



4400 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@Captain
Yeah, they changed it so that you can no longer pos/neg contributors. Also, yeah this band gets into some good jams. It focuses a lot on technical work so there's some insane solos getting done here. Glad you like it, I knew you would though because you appreciate complex muscianship.

CaptainDooRight
February 9th 2013



28693 Comments


oh that's cool bro, I think they should get rid of it all together. Peeps know the good writers in a matter of weeks but anyways yeah swee I love this, this is some really true emotional stuff here in the jazzy innovative sense

WeepingBanana
April 8th 2013



10078 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

listened to this last night

definitely wagged my fancy



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