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Wayne Shorter
Footprints Live!
Verve CD314 589 679-2, 2002 (63:35)

Worth waiting for

Dan Macintosh, 28 June 2002

Believe it or not, "Footprints Live!" is Wayne Shorter's first all-acoustic album since 1967, his first disc as a leader since 1994's "High Life," and his first live recording - ever. This means that the footprints left here are mainly new ones he's created himself, instead of the sound of one extraordinary saxophonist attempting to trace steps made by another musician.

If this work reminds you more than a little of those breakthrough creations Shorter collaborated on with Miles Davis back in the Sixties, there is good reason for such deja vu. In fact, a few of these tracks were originally recorded on Miles Davis albums, such as the opener, "Sanctuary," which is from the classic rock-fusion album "Bitches Brew," and "Footprints," which dates back to "Miles Smiles" during Davis' pre-fusion days. "Footprints" is a track closely associated with Davis' second quintet; a group that also featured much of the initial pioneering ensemble work of Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams and Ron Carter. And while these tracks may have Shorter's own footprints on them, he has certainly used Miles' fashion sense for his shoe designs.

With this in mind, it's a little unfair to compare Danilo Perez (piano), John Patitucci (bass) and Brian Blade (drums) to Shorter's previous high profile partners. But on "Masquelero," Perez, and especially Blade, raise a real musical ruckus. Perez counters Shorter honks and runs with sparse and spaced solos, and Blade aggressively punctuates these contributions with heavy-handed rhythmic comments of his own. On this tune, they present themselves as all-star quality team players, rather than mere second-stringers.

This album has a retro, '60s jazz feel to it for more than just its Miles Davis associations. "Valse Triste" is from a 1965 Shorter solo album, and "Juju" is from one of his 1964 sessions. More current material includes "Atlantis," which is the title cut from his 1985 album, and "Aung San Suu Kyi" which was taken off of Shorter's 1997 collaboration with Herbie Hancock for the "1+1" album. This particular track also has a human scream of joy in the middle of it. It could have come from somebody in the band, or even the audience, but it nevertheless expresses the pure joy this music makes one feel.

If the only Shorter you know is the one who played on those landmark Weather Report albums, this release will open a new window to a time period before his Zawinal-associated days. It will also remind you of how this cat has lived through many fascinating musical lives.

performers  Wayne Shorter, tenor and soprano sax ; Danilo Perez, piano; John Patitucci, bass; Brian Blade, drums.

production  Produced by Wayne Shorter. Executive Producer: Richard Seidel.

songs  Sanctuary · Masquelero · Valse Triste (Sibelius) · Go · Aung San Suu Kyi · Footprints · Atlantis · JuJu

Copyright © 2002 Peppercorn Press. All rights reserved.