A grand goodbye to a jazz giant.
Wayne Shorter Tribute – Shorter Moments: Citizen Wayne – [TrackList follows] – Posi-Tone PR8249, 65:39 [8/25/23] ****:
Citizen Wayne, the third and final album in the Shorter Moments tribute project, was set for release before Wayne Shorter passed away, so the timing of this 65-minute, 11-track recording means this is both an apt way to honor Shorter and an offering of remembrance. Various artists associated with the Los Angeles-based Posi-Tone label contributed to Citizen Wayne. Some tracks evidently were taped specifically for this Shorter Moments endeavor, while some pieces were previously issued.
Citizen Wayne opens with pianist Art Hirahara’s interpretation of the 1965 composition “Lost” (which can be heard on Shorter’s 1979 LP The Soothsayer). Hirahara’s “Lost” was originally on his 2022 album Verdant Valley. Hirahara, drummer Rudy Royston and bassist Boris Kozlov maintain a lingering and contemplative demeanor. Hirahara is also on vibraphonist Behn Gillece’s mid-tempo version of “Mahjong” (from Shorter’s 1965 Juju), which has a snug, warm arrangement and immersive soloing from Gillece, Hirahara, bass clarinetist Patrick Cornelius and tenor saxophonist Diego Rivera. Hirahara is also in the group Blue Moods, which does an upbeat, upswinging take of “El Toro” (recorded in 1961 and released in 1964 on Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers’ Freedom Rider when Shorter was in Blakey’s ensemble). Blue Moods also covers the eclectically shifting “Tom Thumb” (recorded in 1967 and found on Shorter’s 1969 Schizophrenia); the meaningfully magical “Juju”; and “Charcoal Blues” (see Shorter’s 1964 Night Dreamer). “Charcoal Blues” is noteworthy since it shows Shorter’s ability to detail both older musical forms (the blues) and newer characteristics (at the time, Shorter was transitioning to a more contemporary compositional style).
Another one ripe for discovery or rediscovery is the suitably bluesy “12 More Bars to Go” (also known as “Twelve More Bars to Go”) from trumpeter Alex Sipiagin’s 2022 album Ascent to the Blues. This is a perceptive bop-ish number from Juju and includes luminous solos from Sipiagin, Rivera, and Hirahara. “Deluge,” also from Juju, was initially released on guitarist Ed Cherry’s It’s All Good (2012). It’s a soulful showpiece for Cherry and Hammond B3 organist Pat Bianchi. The nearly nine-minute finale, “Infant Eyes” (from Shorter’s 1966 LP Speak No Evil) is on tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery’s 2009 Uptown. “Infant Eyes” is an absorbing ballad and a wonderful setting for Escoffery and guitarist Avi Rothbard’s comforting collaborative creativity. Citizen Wayne is an excellent appraisal of Shorter’s compositional legacy: there are a few well-known standards but also several deep cuts. It’s a superb way to remember one of the greats.
Wayne Shorter Tribute – Shorter Moments: Citizen Wayne
Art Hirahara – piano (tracks 1, 3-6, 10); Boris Kozlov – bass (tracks 1, 4-6, 9-10); Rudy Royston – drums (tracks 1, 5); Willie Morris – tenor saxophone (tracks 1, 8); Jon Davis – piano (tracks 2, 8); Adi Meyerson – bass (tracks 2, 8); EJ Strickland – drums (tracks 2, 8); Behn Gillece – vibraphone (track 3); Patrick Cornelius – bass clarinet (track 3); Diego Rivera – tenor saxophone (tracks 3-6, 9-10); Peter Slavov – bass (track 3); Vinnie Sperrazza – drums (track 3); Joe Strasser – drums (tracks 4, 6, 9-10); Alex Sipiagin – trumpet (track 5); Ed Cherry – guitar (track 7), Pat Bianchi – organ (track 7), Byron Landham – drums (track 7); David Kikoski – piano (track 9); Wayne Escoffery – tenor saxophone (track 11), Avi Rothbard – guitar (track 11)
Lost (from Art Hirahara’s 2022 album Verdant Valley)
Pinocchio (Willie Morris)
Mahjong (Behn Gillece)
El Toro (Blue Moods)
12 More Bars to Go (from Alex Sipiagin’s 2022 album Ascent to the Blues)
Tom Thumb (Blue Moods)
Deluge (from Ed Cherry’s 2012 album It’s All Good)
502 Blues (Willie Morris)
JuJu (Blue Moods)
Charcoal Blues (Blue Moods)
Infant Eyes (from Wayne Escoffery’s 2009 album Uptown)
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