RCS Jazz Orchestra: A Celebration of Wayne Shorter

Stevenson Hall

17 May 2023

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  • Description

A Celebration of WAYNE SHORTER
directed by Mario Caribé

featuring Simon Herberholz

Speak No Evil arr. Pino Iodice
Nefertiti arr. Florian Ross
Footprints arr. Mario Caribe
Infant Eyes arr. Michael Abene
This Is For Albert arr. Christian Jacob
Yes Or No arr. Fred Sturm

Music commissioned by the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra with support from Creative Scotland 2009

Alto saxophone
Rosalind Orr
Jo Collect
Arda Daltaban

Tenor saxophone
Jack Halforty
Ivan Varchenko

Baritone saxophone
James Steele

Ryan Quigley*
Gregor Koziel
Danni Woodnut
Calum Blair

Mikey Owers*
Rebecca Strang
Gregor Dowall
Owen Pickering

Ewan Johnson
Sean Morrison

Roan Anderson
Chun-Wei Kang

Ewan Hastie
Chris Quinn

*guest musician

WAYNE SHORTER (25 August 1933 – 2 March 2023)
One of the most respected names in jazz is also one of its most vital and creative forces; an American saxophonist whose compositional portfolio has profoundly contributed to modern music. Wayne Shorter is, in many ways, the personification of modernity. His restless approach to playing, his philosophical perspective on life and his treatment of his works have made him a daring figure and a much-admired man.

He was first inspired to take up music after sneaking in to see Lester Young play at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Right there and then, the young Shorter declared that he “had to get me a clarinet”. It seems an impetuous beginning to a career marked by a consistently cerebral way with music. But nevertheless, he was smitten by one of the most seductive propositions in music – the sound of jazz.

His first roles as a sideman were with Horace Silver in the fifties and, subsequently, with that great employer of emergent talent, Art Blakey. Only after a prolonged courtship he walked through the revolving door of the Miles Davis centre for dangerous minds.

There were, if any, few arguments between these kindred spirits. Miles was making music without a map, and Shorter was interested in plotting a course into the unknown. But, together, they made seminal music that still shapes our sense of the last century, a time when man met machine but still dreamt of the stars.

Miles the adventurer and Shorter the cartographer created new charts from nothingness on albums like Kind of Blue and In A Silent Way which were spiritual in conception but technically exacting in their execution. Shorter’s liaison with Miles lasted six hugely productive years. Both men were compelled to continue their journeys separately but they appeared at times to be moving in similar directions, albeit along dissimilar paths. The ideas and instrumentation on In A Silent Way morphed into a cosmopolitan (and cosmic) outlook in Weather Report which in turn provided Shorter with a vehicle for some of his most stunning compositions, not least the irresistible Harlequin and panoramic Palladium. Joe Zawinul, Wayne Shorter, and Jaco Pastorius constituted a gravitational force that attracted many others. Weather Report did not break down musical barriers so much as to behave like those borders did not exist.

Many musicians have been inspired by that swagger and still strive towards similar goals. The great gift that Wayne Shorter has made to modern music is to suggest that a maverick tendency could be a modal approach to composition. Shorter’s achievements in instrumental jazz music are essentially twofold.

Firstly, he continually re-painted the high watermark for jazz composition with original tunes such as JuJu, Yes or No, Infant Eyes and Footprints from his Blue Note years and through his work with Miles Davis and Weather Report. Secondly, his commitment to excellence in his chosen field is underscored by the clutch of awards, winning no less than nine Grammys for either best instrumental composition, solo or performance.

If Shorter is competitive, then it is more likely that he is pitting himself against his past triumphs and trying new ways to trump his legend. You have to wonder if there is anyone better equipped for this task than Wayne Shorter; the man who drove Miles, forecasted Heavy Weather and lent jazz-minded rock the credibility it needed to grow up and join the world of adults.

The RCS Jazz Orchestra, directed by Mario Caribe, and featuring Simon Herberholz, are orienteering an expedition through the music of Wayne Shorter. Where they lead we can only follow and get happily lost in some of the finest jazz compositions of any century.