First published in 2015. A Wayne Shorter inspired quintet affair with direct input from Shorter Sound Prints includes new compositions (‘Destination Unknown’ and ‘To Sail Beyond The Sunset’) from the master commissioned by the Monterey Jazz Festival.
Recorded live at Monterey on 21 September 2013 you get a little buzz of audience anticipation at the beginning. The band moniker Sound Prints references Shorter classic ‘Footprints’ saxophonist Joe Lovano and trumpeter Dave Douglas joined at the Californian festival (famously featured in classic 1971 Clint Eastwood thriller Play Misty for Me) by pianist Lawrence Fields, bassist Linda Oh and drummer Joey Baron.
Opening with the title track, a sprawling Joe Lovano number, the leaders pull no punches, a blustery squall greeting the listener, the structure of the piece verging on the feel of free-jazz, fractured lines splintering out unceremoniously. ‘Sprints’ (geddit?) a Douglas tune turns the burner down, tinkling exploratory musings from Fields at the beginning a feature, modally charting what he can do as Oh limbers up behind him, the two leaders lurking in the shadows.
A tough no-nonsense kind of record, grounded in the sound of the Second Great Quintet of Miles Davis in which Shorter played such a vital role, the middle part of the album has the two Wayne compositions: firstly ‘Destination Unknown’ that has a pendulum lightness to its bass-led opening, Douglas and Lovano softening as their introductory lines intertwine, the main thurst of the tune retro in a way as is a lot of the album; and then ‘To Sail Beyond the Sunset’ (the title coming from a 1980s sci-fi novel by Robert A. Heinlein that itself borrowed from a Tennyson poem) beginning once more with piano input, Lawrence Fields in a soft balladic space. It is the lovelier of the two pieces, beautifully delivered by the band. Lovano’s ‘Weatherman,’ presumably another reference to Shorter in the title but certainly not a jazz-rock piece (if you continue the whole Weather Report analogy) as this is an acoustic album from start to finish this tune somehow more Ornettian, comes next, and then finally the storming ‘Power Ranger,’ a Douglas tune.
It’s mostly enjoyable stuff although I can’t say I was blown away by everything here more swept along by the sheer vitality of the album and skill of the players. An easy album to admire then and especially of interest in that regard because of the fine new Wayne Shorter tunes.
Dave Douglas, top left, and Joe Lovano. Photo: Blue Note