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Lions Roar : July 2019
The Sound of Emanon “Miles Davis called me one time,” Wayne Shorter recalls, starting into an impression of his gravel-voiced late mentor. “He says, ‘Hey Wayne, write me an orchestra thing, with strings and everything—but leave a window so I can get out!’” With Davis long out of the picture, is Emanon Short- er’s attempt to create what Davis was hoping to hear? “Yeah, you got it,” Shorter says, and cites an example. “In the first piece, ‘Pegasus,’ we start to improvise near the end; the window is there. Actually, it’s a doorway!” That track, like the rest of Emanon’s first disc, features Shorter’s quartet with New York City’s Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Highly composed, yet allowing for fearless impro- visation, its songs flow out from Shorter, pianist Danilo Pérez, drummer Brian Blade, and bassist John Patitucci with the naturalness of wind or rainfall. Lilting and complex, the music swells and takes off on a dime, making the most of the orchestra’s presence and creating a distinctly filmic feel that is especially effective as a graphic-novel companion. The other two discs feature the band live in London, revisit- ing songs from the first disc and from elsewhere in Shorter’s vast catalog. These orchestra-less performances are still potent, allowing space for more standard “jazz” instrumentation. Shorter notes that the music isn’t a “soundtrack” to the graphic novel, and the graphic novel isn’t some kind of visual telling of the all-instrumental music that makes up the release’s three discs. Rather, they complement one another. As he put it to the Los Angeles Times, “The graphic novel fits the forward, undaunted stuff that is going on in the music.” —Rod Meade Sperry way they play. They should just do what they’ve been doing, and we navigate and work with them. If it’s easy, there’s something wrong. We want it to be dif- ficult so we can keep breaking down any chance of arrogance during rehearsals, before we even play.” GIVEN ITS DELUXE PRESENTATION, Emanon feels monumental, to me at least. But does it feel that way to Shorter? “Yeah,” he allows. But, he adds, in his typically big-minded but arrogance-free manner, his way is to “move on with the great adventure of everything that eternity has to offer.” He is, in fact, already on to the next thing—an opera, which he’s writing with bassist/composer/jazz crossover wunderkind Esperanza Spalding. Why an opera? “I have some books on opera,” Shorter replies, “and one of them says, on the first page, ‘In opera, everything goes.’” ♦ PHOTOBYANDREWADAMS LION’S ROAR | JULY 2019 65