(Note: I had a version of this post ready to go a couple of days after the concert, and my hard drive got wiped. So, here is how I remember it, plus the lucky addition of a run-in I had with one of the band's members, the great Danielo Perez)
A night after Wayne Shorter celebrated his 75th birthday in New York, his great quartet played a packed house in Boston. Both Dave Douglas and Ben Ratliff covered Wayne's Carnegie Hall hit beautifully, and I feel like I gave my best shot at a nuts and bolts review of this group at Newport this summer, so below are just a few thoughts I had at the show, and after.
One thing that struck me this time around was how much better Patitucci sounds with this band than he did when they first started playing. I remember several folks who saw them with me in '03 mentioning that no one, including John, was exactly clear on what his role was, because this band doesn't use a bass player in the conventional sense. At this gig, he and Danielo especially were bouncing ideas off each other, moving back and forth. Patitucci also bowed much more this last time, not just during "solos", creating a very broad thick texture for the others to paint on.
The word I kept coming back to in listening to the band was "cinematic". Ratliff in his review mentioned some of the tunes the band touched. I felt like I recognized bits, and certainly heard when pieces of forms returned, but I couldn't name anything they played this time out specifically. But I could easily imagine this music underneath a fight scene on film, or an earthquake, or a noir horror theme. And I mean that literally- I don't know if the timing would work, but it felt as good for the movies as anything Danny Elfman does. Wayne's love of movies is well known, and to me this band feels like it's able to bring that love to the fore, without ever quoting the "Superman" theme. (as Wayne is wont to do)
Today I bumped into Danielo Perez at a local coffee shop as he was finishing business at New England Conservatory. We chatted a little about the gig, and working with Wayne, and here is (not verbatim) what he has to say about it right now:
"I don't know if I have words for it. I feel like I've gotten more patient. Like I'm uncovering something- rubbing and rubbing at it until it shines. (puts his sleeve on his briefcase and rubs it in circles.) I can't explain what it is I'm finding, but I think I understand now. It's like I'm walking in several different dimensions at the same time, just with everything..."
I hope to see him again soon and try to pin him down, but for now I'll chew on that...