Tag Archives: Danilo Perez


Wayne Shorter

Wayne Shorter at Hamer Hall … surely one of the jazz heroes.


Melbourne International Jazz Festival, June 3 to June 12, 2016

One of the most interesting conversations I’ve had during this jazz festival — and I’ve had a few, before and after attending 15 concerts — was about the jazz hero.

The person I spoke to was a musician who said he wanted to move away from that approach or model in bands in which he played. In this context I recalled a wonderful concert in Melbourne in which a band gradually swapped players while the music continued, morphing into a new group as newcomers quietly joined in and then others moved off stage during the set.

On the second night of this festival, June 4, I went to The Reverence Hotel in Footscray to hear 30/70 Collective make “future soul and hip-hop meet in the middle via jaunty boom bap”, to quote the program. As they say in some news programs, more on that story later.

After the first set by members of the collective who formed A Brother Scratch, the 30/70 Collective band members did something I have never seen before at a gig — they went into a huddle.

30/70 Collective

30/70 Collective in a huddle before performing.

Already feeling the warm glow from the first set of music that was out of my familiarity zone, so to speak, I was quite taken by this musical group hug, which seemed designed to engender team spirit. It was not long before the packed room was moving to the hypnotic grooves — myself included.

By now you’ll have realised this is more of a rave than a hard-nosed review. But there is a point. The musician mentioned who wants to move away from dependence on heroes in jazz described 30/70 Collective as being like a family. That certainly fitted with my impression from the vibes in the pub.

I decided to try applying the idea of avoiding heroes to the reviewing of a festival. Bear with me.

Reviewers often mention their list of standout gigs or highlights during a festival. I have often done that. And I’ve often asked other patrons and other reviewers to name the bands they’ve most enjoyed. It’s a natural thing, especially if there is limited space in a review, to pick the standouts.

But what if a festival review was more like a collective of gigs? Then I could value each for its special qualities — what worked well and even what didn’t. That’s how I feel about the mix of very different MIJF concerts that I went to this year.

Children of the Light Trio

Children of the Light Trio at Bennetts Lane

On night eight of the MIJF I went to Bennetts Lane at 10pm to hear Children of the Light Trio consisting of Danilo Perez on piano, John Patitucci on bass and Brian Blade on drums — Wayne Shorter‘s band without the hero, if you like.

That’s laughable, you’ll say, because each member of this trio is a hero in their own right. True, but — and I’m already breaking with the “no highlights” approach — that band’s performance without Shorter that night was the gig I’d have to say has stayed with me and will do so for a long time to come.

On the final night of the festival I did hear Wayne Shorter with the members of this band. Afterwards I heard snippets of opinion, including comments that he did not play for a great portion of the set, that some say he’s too comfortable with Perez, Patitucci and Blade, and, notwithstanding, that this hero of jazz is on a different plane from any of the great players still alive.

Wayne Shorter

Wayne Shorter plays Hamer Hall

Hearing Shorter at Hamer Hall was special. Getting relatively close to record some images was pretty special.

Hearing him in conversation with Jon Faine, Wilbur Wilde and Kristin Berardi on ABC radio 774 was also special — and at times hilarious. His refusal to get bogged down by labels and his wish to think so broadly about life made me wonder whether Wayne Shorter would want to be put on a pedestal.

I enjoyed his playing on this occasion a lot more than when I heard him some years ago at The Palais in St Kilda, which is perhaps a sign that I had then been uneducated in what to expect — frequent changes of direction and very short bursts of sax. This time he did not play for too long in the set, but what he contributed was considered and just right in the moment.

That said, after reflection, I took more away from his quartet members’ gig as a trio in the much smaller venue. Of course it would be far too exclusive to have Shorter perform to such a limited audience.

Anyway, my search for a hook or a story on which to hang reflections on this year’s Melbourne International Jazz Festival has ended — albeit in way too meandering a fashion — at that strong image of 30/70 Collective in a huddle. To that image I add some showing large ensembles featured at this festival at the ends of their concerts.

the migration

Stu Hunter and musicians after “the migration” at Malthouse Theatre.

We’ve seen some big projects come to fruition on stage this year — Stu Hunter‘s the migration, the Monash Art Ensemble‘s performance with Tomasz Stanko, the release of a new album by Peter Knight’s Way Out West.

Jordan Murray and Tomasz Stanko with Monash Art Ensemble

Jordan Murray and Tomasz Stanko with Monash Art Ensemble

All of these have involved a lot of work and huge collective effort.

Keyon Harrold with Twi-Life

Keyon Harrold with Twi-Life

And of course in smaller ensembles such as Andrea Keller’s Transients, the Allan Browne Quintet performing Ithaca Bound at Uptown Jazz Cafe, Keyon Harrold with Twi-Life, Shai Maestro Trio, the Tomasz Stanko Band and the Tribute to Allan Browne trio of Paul Grabowsky, Mirko Guerrini and Niko Schauble, we have heard the results of collective interaction.

Even in the solo gig by Paolo Angeli at the Bluestone Church in Footscray we saw how his instrument’s many parts worked together to produce different styles of music.

Interaction is what makes the diverse music that makes up jazz so engrossing, inventive and wonderful. And each musician brings to the stage the formative background that has shaped them — influences that interact and find expression in changing ways as they practise and play.

Some of us will love, like or not like some of the music we hear from improvising musicians, but at its core is that interaction. We see and delight in it as we watch the faces of the musicians at work.

End of rave. In the days ahead I will add a few, much shorter, separate posts — with pictures — to cover concerts I attended as part of this festival.

In the meantime, musicians will be playing live in lots of venues around Melbourne, so get out there. You won’t regret it.









Wayne Shorter
Eternal thinker: Wayne Shorter.

IF Wayne Shorter — the composer whose musical scores Miles Davis never altered — can seem at times to be on another planet, it’s certain Captain Marvel will be at his side.

Shorter is a deep thinker and a philosopher, but the saxophonist who wrote such classics as Nefertiti, Footprints and Prince of Darkness peppers his conversation with humour and light-hearted references to superheroes.

In the 76-year-old, who in his early days played with Art Blakey, Davis and the fusion group Weather Report before forming his current acoustic quartet 10 years ago, it is easy to recognise the mischievous high school boy who played hooky 56 times so he could hear Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk play at the Adams Theatre in his home town of Newark, New Jersey.

A strict Bavarian music teacher, Achilles d’Amico, encouraged the young Shorter’s love of Parker, and introduced him to Stravinsky and Mozart.

“When I heard Dizzy Gillespie’s big band and Stravinsky and Dmitri Shostakovich, these people became to me like Batman and Robin, and Charlie Parker was like Captain Marvel,” Shorter recalls by phone from Los Angeles.

“These were interchangeable with comic-book heroes and characters in novels who would overcome things, fighting for justice and all that.”
For Shorter, a Buddhist, the struggle is to convey the “great adventure” of life through music.

“People who don’t believe in eternity think they only have one life and they have a lot of incentive to rob banks and murder if they don’t get what they want. I have decided to write music that inspires thinking about something that goes on and grows and becomes more human,” he says.

Shorter has faced his share of tragedy. His brother Alan, a trumpet player, died suddenly in 1986 of a ruptured aorta. Shorter’s second wife, Ana Maria, was killed when TWA Flight 800 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in 1996.

“Tragedies, failures — these things are temporary,” he says. “But there’s something else that’s constant and indestructible. I’m trying to write music about indestructible happiness.”

He has also written about suffering and struggle. He and Herbie Hancock each won a Grammy for a piece titled Aung San Suu Kyi, in honour of the Burmese campaigner for democracy.

“That music was originally written as an exercise in advanced harmony when I was at New York University in the fifties,” Shorter says. “I found it in my piano chair after all those years and my mind went to Burma. Since its release I have received word through diplomatic channels that Aung San Suu Kyi has the album.”

Shorter says in Australia his quartet, with Danilo Perez on piano, John Patitucci on bass and Brian Blade on drums, may play some material from the acclaimed 2005 album Beyond the Sound Barrier, but “we’re gonna surprise ourselves”.

“Because we don’t rehearse — there’s no time — people will hear moments with this group when they will think, ‘Where can they go now? What’s going on?’ It may sound like a struggle, but the challenge is to make the struggle sound good — the kind where everyone will want to jump in there and struggle with us.

“Then, out of the struggle comes Captain Marvel,” Shorter says with a laugh.
Audiences will not hear his latest, unrecorded compositions in which the quartet plays extended works with full orchestras in St Louis, Holland and France.

“When the music starts with the quartet and orchestra, that’s virgin territory right there in front of us,” Shorter says. “It’s like an astronaut jumping on to another planet. But these guys all have a lot of courage and trust.”

Shorter is impatient with musicians who want only to show off their best sides.
“Some people say I can’t play with strings, that strings don’t swing. Before Miles Davis died he asked me to write something with him for orchestra. And he said, ‘When you write something for strings, put a window in there, in the strings, so I can get out’.”

Canadian film director James Cameron is one of Shorter’s superheroes, perhaps because his alien characters highlight the way we cling to our musical tastes, resisting what may seem too foreign, deep or complex.

“You can’t worry about what the audience wants. If you did that you’d be enhancing the mechanism by which most audiences in America have been conditioned over almost 100 years … almost since the advent of radio.

“There’s a point beyond which they don’t wander and visit in music and in much of the arts,” Shorter says.

“Selling a million records was never our motivation. It would be nice to make a lot of money, but we have refused to get into the antics of payola.

“Record companies used to say, ‘We can’t market that sort of stuff that you’re doing with Weather Report’. But Art Blakey used to say, ‘You can market Wrigley’s chewing gum, but you can’t market jazz’. I’d say they won’t … let’s put it like that.”

Wayne Shorter Quartet plays The Palais on Friday, March 5 at 7.30pm. Local musicians Dave Beck, Stephen Magnusson and Scott Tinkler will open.


This article was published in the Herald Sun, Melbourne, on March 5, 2010