Customer Reviews: Footprints Live
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on May 22, 2002
I hate when reviewers use hackneyed phrases like "a return to form," but that's what Wayne Shorter has done on this album. It's a return to the lean, haunted, fiercely beautiful, exploratory small group format he plumbed the depths of during his Blue Note years, on such brilliant albums as "Adam's Apple" and "Juju." What a relief! It's been disheartening to hear Shorter's inimitable voice become first little more than another special effect in the Weather Report machine, and then pop up here and there in cluttered settings on his own later albums. (I know, I know, "Mysterious Traveller" and even "Heavy Weather" were majestic and ...kicking in places, but Shorter's own laser-like contributions were frequently overwhelmed by Zawinul's synth orchestrations, which sound more dated and time-bound these days than Shorter's earlier work.) Most disappointing of all, perhaps, was that weird duet session with Herbie Hancock several years ago, which promised intimacy and telepathy, and delivered only a couple of weary masters recycling their tonal cliches.
Finally, Wayne has surrounded himself with young players who obviously SCHOOLED themselves on those great Miles and Blue Note-era albums. The dark magus of Miles hovers over this session; like The Great Quintet, this is a band that can be lovely and terrifying in the same three bars. Blade is clearly the most energetic and sensitive young jazz drummer out there these days, Pattitucci is eminently tasteful and into-it, and Perez is all over the changes of such devastatingly beautiful melodies as "Masqualero" and "Footprints," deconstructing and reinventing while staying true to the incendiary spirit of the original recordings.
If you thought Shorter had just become another brand name worthy of reverence for his early work and worthy of keeping your mouth shut about the last 25 years of his music out of respect, put on this CD. This could have been a monumental trio session even without Shorter; with him, it's a historic event, evidence that these tunes will still raise the hairs on the back of people's necks in another 200 years.
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on August 13, 2002
First, a word about Wayne Shorter the saxophonist. Wayne Shorter does NOT play cliches. EVER. He never inflict mindless bop runs on the listener--the kind that only prove the soloist's ability to finger, while leaving everyone else bored. This is not to say he doesn't have technique. I hear some phrases on this recording that would take a week to transcribe.
Further, Wayne Shorter listens, and inspires his band to do the same. And he is always aware of shifting the mood and tone of a piece as it proceeds. This is why Footprints Live is an excellent example of the jazz art form. Memo to Stanley Crouch et al-- there are not even 30 seconds of "swing" on this recording, and nothing could be more jazz than this.
What do we get instead? We get passages of gaiety, bravura, majesty, anguish, play, reflection, and more. We get metamorphisizing grooves that move us from event to event. We get an escape from routine music making.
Oh...the compositions. Wayne writes themes that are accessible but that can never be reduced to conventional modes. They encourage the player to avoid rote expressions.
For all these things and more, Wayne Shorter deserves some kind of medal. Or at least to be heard. Check out Footprints Live!
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on July 1, 2002
This exceptional recording is long overdue. Wayne Shorter is one of our most gifted composers and an excellent saxophonist. This live recording captures him and his quartet at a pinnacle in his career. I have often thought that Wayne would fade off into the sunset after his duet recording with Herbie Hancock. But this recording shows that his creative juices are rising and new territory is being sought after and conquered. This Quartet is very tight and approach the creative interactiveness of Dave Hollands Quintet. This music absolutely smokes. This will get a lot of votes for record of the year. I am looking forward to the follow-up CD. Welcome back Wayne. Your vibe is strong. Peace.
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on December 31, 2003
Always innovative and at times downright explosive the group that Wayne Shorter has assembled is the best jazz ensemble that is out there touring these days. ( Herbie Hancock with Hargrove. Brecker, et al...comes in a close second in my book). This is jazz as it should be heard. Spontaneous and full of energy and interplay between the musicians. I had the chance to see this group earlier this year and it was one of the highlights of 2003 for me. They lit the place up. Now, the recording while outstanding is admittedly no substitute for a live performance. However this is a wonderful live set that captures the spirit of what this fine group of musicians can create on any given night.The two best live cds that I've heard in a long time are this one and live at Massey hall from Hancock's group.
As for the tunes here..Footprints from Miles Smiles sounds fresh and new and the other Shorter compositions give these musicians an opportunity to display their own unique interpretations.
Finally Brian Blades is an absolute killer on drums. When I saw them live he was just amazing and that clearly comes across here. Perez is a very inventive soloist and his comping is never boring. These guys really kick butt...check this out if you haven't had the chance to see them yet.
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on June 23, 2002
Wayne Shorter's new record is nothing short of spectacular. This could be, quite possibly, one of the best jazz records released in recent memory.
I had a friend who wasn't into jazz ask me for recommendations about records to "start out" with. Normally, I list the usual records, Kind of Blue, A Love Supreme, some Ella, some Louis...but this time I also felt compelled to recommend Footprints live!. There are so few records made during this era that hold up the classics. This record is that good--so awe inspiring and beautiful it needs to be ranked next to some of the great records in this or any genre. God bless Wayne Shorter.
Did anyone catch his quotation from the Jurassic Park theme song in Aung San Suu Kyi? He's a huge sci-fi and movie buff apparently.
And if you have a chance, catch this band live. They are so much better now than when they recorded the record. The level of dialogue that goes on between the quartet is pure telepathy.
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on April 7, 2005
Check out the booklet that accompanies this CD. Shorter's image is caught sometimes in full, sometimes distorted, and sometimes lonely partially. In many ways this is a perfect metaphor for this album. Shorter's masterpieces from the past are presented as if turned inside out and amusing things are found. The arrangements tend to be spare and having a lot of sonic space between the instruments. This leaves an almost "minimalist" impression except paying attention to detail reveals a lot of activity going on between the players.

This approach points to the problem I have with this album. Short periods of intense listening shows some brilliant playing and interplay. Unfortunately, across the entire length of the album my mind wandered. Shorter and company play as if they were a cluster of low-key volcanoes and I kept waiting someone to rip the top off and erupt. They never do.

This is likely to strike some as tasteful restraint. I am simply not convinced. There is no question Shorter is a jazz great whose reputation is secure musical history. Others will certainly disagree; but this strikes me a coasting.
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on May 3, 2004
Wayne Shorter has always been able to flow from one stage to the next. This group now is an embarkment from where he was since he seldom played after his Weather Report days. To say it briefly, Wayne Shorter is back with vegence. His newly re-arranged and re-harmonized versions of a few of his old classics and some other classic tunes make this album extremely enjoyable. The sense of freedom and modal playing embellished the entire album. While this is a landmark album for Wayne, showing his return to all acoustic jazz, this is a landmark album in general in jazz. Groups like Dave Holland are also in this trend in the sense that they rely heavily on interplay and constant improvisation...the root and soul of jazz. Pick this one up, one of the finest tenor/soprano players alive with a fresh new group.
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VINE VOICEon December 27, 2002
Two words that come to mind. Others would be delicate strength, emotional intelligence. This is Wayne Shorter with his strongest group in years. I saw this band last year in San Francisco and they electrified a rapt audience. Brian blade is truly an extraordinarily dynamic drummer possessing a seemingly infinite palette of colors. and Danilo Perez IS the right pianist for the gig. The best pianists for Wayne are composers themselves, who approach the keyboard as an orchestrator does. Not just another post bebop player of fast lines and stabbing left hand chords, Perez has a wholistic approach to the piano which really works. And these guys know how to listen, making this a fine example of what this group is capable of doing, which is making magic happen in front of your eyes and ears.
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on March 20, 2005
I heard this group live in Stockholm the other day, and this experience made me fully realize what this CD is about. Being primarily a classical and world music listener, I tend to get put off by jazz, being either too formal and predictable or too chaotic and meaningless. This music is in the perfect orbit. You still feel the gravity, beauty and order of the earth, but never plunge back into the predictable. Yet you are in the widened space, but never get disconnected and lost in entropy and meaningslessness. In a sense, my whole life as a listener has been in search of this place, and this CD is one of the few that takes me there, now that I've heard this music live.
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on February 20, 2003
I'll be honest, this is the most creative album I've run across in a long time. These guys are obviously the best of the best, when it comes to technical prowess over their instruments as well as listening to other members of the band. They work incredibly well as a group. Most of the time it is the unit of the group that is presented, not the individual players. Don't take patatucci for granted, because this doesn't showcase him, but he is keeping the whole group together. I am most impressed with Brian Blade, he stands out the most as an exceptional player on this album. This recording is what many consider "out-there" jazz, but its different then the other stuff happening today...people have been comparing this to the Hancock/brecker/hargrove album that just came out, but even though 2/3 of that rhythm section is with Shorter here, it is a totally different sound. This is truly something I've never experienced before. I give it a 4, because i think you lose some of the energy when you're not there in person. This music works better if you are watching the players, like some people have said and though the recording captures the intent, a lot is lost. Also, this album isn't a perfect album, the bad moments are definitely overshadowed by the thousands of excellent moments, and what saves the album is the spontaneous mood changes that constantly occur throughout. This is not for everyone, but if you want to actually sit down and listen to it, its worth the money. Warning: do not use this as background music, because if you aren't paying attention to it, it just sounds like garbage...the subtlities of these musicians' efforts will just turn into noise. This is an album for listening, not for playing at parties!
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