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Lions Roar : July 2019
After twenty years together, the musical telepathy between Shorter and his quartet- mates—pianist Danilo Pérez, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Brian Blade—is as strong as ever and Emanon, with its mix of live and studio tracks, is the proof. dear friend of his ex-wife, and the couple remains together today.) His brother, Alan, also a jazz musi- cian and composer, died in 1988. It was to be a period of relative creative quiet, with Shorter taking a seven-year hiatus from releasing solo LPs. That ended with 1995’s High Life, a more synthe- sized outing than some might have expected, but being unusual worked again: High Life earned Shorter a Grammy for Best Contemporary Jazz Album. In 2000, he hooked up with pianist Danilo Pérez, drummer Brian Blade, and bassist John Patitucci to form a new quartet. They’ve been going ever since, and their chemistry is palpable throughout Emanon’s three discs. Though Shorter is the group’s compo- sitional force, improvisation, even democracy, are at the fore in this band, he says. “We don’t rehearse. When we get together, we talk to each other, but we only talk of playing. Then, after playing a while, we’ll say, ‘Where did that come from?’ And when one soloist interrupts another soloist, it’s not an interrup- tion, it’s an opportunity. The ears grow with all you hear. We can hear and not just anticipate.” I ask Shorter if this ability to tune into musical opportunity is informed by his Buddhist practice. “Oh yeah,” he confirms, and then notes how his musical “compadres” react to his seemingly endless energy, which he presumably chalks up to practice as well. “When it’s time to leave the hotel, and I’m up early, they’re saying, ‘How do you do that?’ And they’re much younger than me!” Since Emanon’s first disc features the band play- ing with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, you might expect improvisation to suffer. But not on Shorter’s watch. “When you get classical musicians together with people who improvise,” he tells me, “it’s more than music. A lot of jazz musicians used to say that classical doesn’t swing. So, you think you’re going to rehearse and make them swing so they can sit with you. “It hit me in the head—here’s the Buddhist prac- tice again—and I said, they shouldn’t change the PHOTOBYCRAIGLOVELL/EAGLEVISIONSPHOTOGRAPHY/ALAMYSTOCKPHOTO LION’S ROAR | JULY 2019 64