Saturday, October 16, 2010

So What?

So you met some more jazz musicians? So what?

I'll tell you what's what - they are not just any jazz musicians. If you could name two living jazz composers, who would they be? Chances are, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter would come to mind. Kurt Elling once called Wayne Shorter one of the three greatest jazz composers ever. Not sure who the other two were, but might be Herbie and the great Duke Ellington.

What gives? My firm had purchased a table at the annual St. Louis Symphony gala. Renee Fleming was the feature solo performer. I had gotten advance word that "La Diva" was living up to the title and bringing an entourage that included Mr. Hancock. He of the Miles Davis 1960s jazz quintet (maybe the best ever). He of an incredible collection of jazz compositional masterpieces still being played regularly today (Dolphin Dance, Maiden Voyage, Canteloupe Island, Watermelon Man, Chameleon). He of the crossover hit fame (remember "Rockit"?).

So at the event David Robertson was conducting and starts talking about Renee an Wayne Shorter, how they loved each other's music, etc. I had neglected to pick up a program and was just going with the flow. But it turns out La Diva was singing a world premier of a composition by Wayne Shorter written especially for her. And of course, Wayne was there too. Also a member of the same Miles Davis quintet (I'm batting .600 now, having heard Ron Carter (bass) from that quintet - alas, that batting average won't increase, as Mr. Davis and his wonderful drummer from that quintet, Tony Williams, are no longer with us). Wayne went on to do many other things (Weather Report, e.g.). And he had his own wonderful quintet, and wrote many jazz standards - I would say from a jazz
purists standpoint, more than Mr. Hancock (Footprints, anyone?). On the album where Mr. Elling names him as one of the three all time great composers, he then sings the classic Night Dreamer, then sings Wayne's sax solo, and then Lee Morgan's trumpet solo (Mr. Elling has some wicked skills himself).

Well, you just don't see Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter everyday, let alone together. The only thing that would have made it better is if they would have played with the after-party band. But they didn't. Oh well, so what, as Miles might say. Speaking of which, here is Miles, with the great quintet (Herbie, Wayne, Ron and Tony) doing "So What" on the Steve Allen show in the 1960s:

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