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Opened in 2008, The Dirty Dog is one of the premiere destinations in the United States for world class Jazz and cuisine. It combines the charm of an English-style pub with intimacy and meticulous attention to detail and hospitality.
THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFE BLOG
The Dirty Dog brings together the musicians and guests in a way that creates a lasting impression and desire to come back.
July 15, 2017

 

 

 

 

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National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master award Recipient: Wayne Shorter

 

Saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter is this year’s Artist-In-Residence at the Detroit Jazz Festival. He’s known for playing with some of the most important style makers of modern Jazz from Art Blakey and John Coltrane to Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and the band Weather Report. Looking back over his stellar career we can definitely add Mr. Shorter to this list of influential instrumentalists and style makers.

 

 

The saxophone is considered one of the most important melodic instruments in Jazz. Playing a melodic instrument such as the saxophone gave him an opportunity to use his special gift as a supreme “melody maker”. He is equally known for his virtuosic playing and improvisational abilities as he is for his work as a prolific composer whose compositions have become some of the most played standards in modern Jazz.

 

 

These include the piece Footprints, which is one of the most covered compositions in contemporary Jazz. It first appeared in 1966 on his 10th release “Adam’s Apple” with him on tenor saxophone, Herbie Hancock, piano, Reginald Workman on bass and Joe Chambers, drums. It was also recorded the same year with Miles Davis second great quintet with Shorter again on tenor, Herbie Hancock, piano, Ron Carter, bass and Tony Williams on drums.

 

 

Both versions could not be any more different. It was more like “Miles Apart”.
These were experimental times in Jazz as it began absorbing the changes happening in music with the fusing of Jazz with Rock, Funk, World, Folk and other emerging popular idioms. Instrumentation changed with the additions of louder, amplified instruments such as guitars, and bass, often treated with special effects.

 

 

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These changes began and can be heard in the music of both Miles Davis and Weather Report from late 1960s into the early 1970s. Both groups were highly influential and hosted Wayne Shorter who became an important voice during this period. Both groups were experimenting with fusion early on.

 

 

This important historical transition for Jazz is strikingly evident as you listen to these two versions of Footprints. Both are equally beautiful but the “Adam’s Apple” version feels like it is from a different tradition. Each player is a distinct individual while the Miles’ version shows how the artists are beginning to fuse into one voice, one sound – a more collective approach. We hear them exploring global styles, modes, cultures. A sign of the approaching times.

 

 

Ron Carter’s bass line is tinged with Latin affectations, Tony Williams’ drums are creating hypnotic splashes and textures, quoting hints from ancient cultures. Wayne Shorter and Miles are harmonizing the melodic line while experimenting with different modal designs. Listen and compare these two versions of Footprints, both recorded in 1966. A clear picture of how much Jazz was progressing during the mid-1960’s due to such composers and improvisers as Wayne Shorter.

 

 

Wayne Shorter’s earlier version of Footprints from his 1966 release “Adam’s Apple”

 

 

 

 

 

Miles Davis’s version played by his second great quintet which includes Miles Davis, trumpet, Wayne Shorter again on tenor, Herbie Hancock, piano, Ron Carter, bass and Tony Williams on drums.

 

 

 

 

Speaking of improvisation. Mr. Shorter is a master at improvisation which goes hand in hand with being an master composer as improvisation means composing “in real time” as we explored in a recent “Jazz Notes”.

 

 

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This was very evident when I had a chance to hear Mr. Shorter with his quartet at Orchestra Hall a couple of years ago with Danilo Perez, piano, John Patitucci, bass and Brian Blade on drums. It was one of the most intuitive bands I have ever heard as they played group improvisations for most of the evening. The music was complex and unique but accessible at the same time. This band will be opening the Detroit Jazz Festival this year.

 

Other compositions of Wayne Shorter that have become standards within the repertoire include:

 

Infant Eyes
Ponte De Areia
Neferitti
Dindi
Witch Hunt
Oriental Folk Song
Mysterious Traveler
and many more.

 

 

Mr. Shorter draws from a wide palette of colors, textures and cultural influences with no two songs sounding alike. Writing effective, engaging and memorable melodies is a true art form. Wayne Shorter is a rare talent and a true master.

 

He performs each day of the four-day festival which is free.

 

For complete information go to DetroitJazzFest.org

 

 

 

 

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Detroit Public Radio mainstay, Judy Adams, is a trained pianist, composer and musicologist who hosts a Jazz and contemporary music show on CJAM 99.1FM and guest hosts on WRCJ 90.9FM

 

 

 

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