Monday, January 07, 2008

The Long, the Tall and the Shorter of it

It's been far too long since I've posted here so apologies. It's one man operation so it can be tricky to keep it moving along. A combination of a starting a new job, crimbo and illness have kept me away though I have sneaked out from time to time.

I swept the cobwebs out on Saturday the 5th of January with a visit to Liverpool to check out Wayne Shorter playing at the grand, if somewhat old fashioned feeling Liverpool Philharmonic Hall as part of the Fresh Festival. I'd hadn't realised until entering the hall and wondering if I was at the wrong concert that he was playing with the full size Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and not just a quartet as I was expecting. Wayne looked stately all in black and cut an elegant if modest figure in amongst the orchestra. He was a man of few words, only communicating once with the audience in a somewhat enigmatic manner, but there was no feeling distance despite this and the atmosphere was warm.

Not surprisingly given the set-up, the tunes were heavily arranged pieces and much of the time sounding very classical. I wasn't familiar with the material but it worked really well, particularly the second track, also appreciated by my Liverpool based mate, the kinetic Hannah Peel who came along to the gig with me. In many ways the focus wasn't on Wayne or the quartet but the orchestra and the overall compositions. Wayne's short improvisations were quite uncommitted and he seemed more focussed on taking in the overall impact of his orchestrations. This lack was made up for by the other members of the quartet, drummer Brian Blade, John Patitucci on double bass and Danilo Perez on piano, all playing with force and vigour.

An appropriately 'short' set at one hour plus an encore but a good one.

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