“Defining what jazz is supposed to be is a losing battle, but bringing some of its most enlightened, satisfying and least generic virtues into focus is not. During the London jazz festival, which has just ended, listeners to such music in its multiplicity of guises could sense what bridges them all: close listening, spontaneity, the kindling of a performing zone in which a balance of the planned and the unplanned tips from one moment to the next. The living embodiment of those qualities played Sunday’s festival finale, the globally revered saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter with his quartet: pianist Danilo Perez, double bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade.
Shorter discreetly arrived on stage, quietly whistled his famous original The Three Marias, and the softly blown tenor saxophone hoots of Zero Gravity progressively met the building churn and thrash of Blade’s dramatic drumming and Patitucci’s deft, darting pizzicato. Shorter’s soprano saxophone then sidled the music into She Moves Through the Fair, and the 83-year-old star swerved and swooped with growing long-lined articulacy on both tenor and soprano through Adventures Aboard the Golden Mean and Prometheus Unbound, across barely detectable splices between compositions and improv.“