Written by Nate Chinen from WBGO
Wayne Shorter didn’t release any new music in 2017. But that’s not to say the eminent saxophonist, composer and NEA Jazz Master had anything less than a banner year. In the spring he returned to Newark, for the first time in ages, as the honored guest of a festival at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. He turned up as a sage witness in two notable documentary films, I Called Him Morgan and Chasing Trane. And over Labor Day weekend he was artist in residence at the Detroit Jazz Festival, the largest free outdoor event of its kind in the country.
This episode of Jazz Night In America focuses on Wayne in Detroit. We were there for the duration of his residency, catching him in two magnificent concerts. For the first performance, he led his working quartet, a magically telepathic unit that has been well chronicled in this century. The second concert featured a special-edition band that had only played together twice before — a quartet with Terri Lyne Carrington on drums, Esperanza Spalding on acoustic bass and vocals, and Leo Genovese on piano. That’s the set we’re bringing to you in this show, along with words of wisdom from the man of the hour.
The set included reimagined versions of “Endangered Species” and “Someplace Called Where,” from Shorter’s 1980s fusion period, and a take on “Encontros e Despedidas,” a song by Milton Nascimento. We’ll hear flashbacks to the original versions of these themes as we shine a light on Shorter, with special guests, on an open-air plaza in the Motor City. You’ll hear fireworks going off not only in the distance, but also right there, onstage.