Shorter, Carrington, Genovese, Spalding: Live At The Detroit Jazz Festival    

Set from Detroit in 2017 has saxophone, keyboard, bass, drums and voice interacting in the moment on complex and abstract material

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In the sleeve notes to this live festival set, Esperanza Spalding talks about the glib expression “We’re building the plane as we fly it,” and why she gets nervous about such an irresponsible act. But on this night in Detroit, the band were all flight-ready, and lifted off musically, building and honing their collective craft as they flew the skies.

Three of the five songs here are by Shorter, one by Milton Nascimento, and Drummers Song by Geri Allen, whose untimely passing made it impossible for her to join the band as scheduled.

Someplace Called “Where” opens with a gentle piano rumination into which Shorter and the rest of the band slowly insinuate themselves, Spalding’s impassioned vocals and Shorter’s urgent tenor providing a strong push to increasingly choppy proceedings. The lengthy Endangered Species is much lighter and airier, although equally multi-faceted, Shorter’s soprano dipping in above some consistently strong piano accompaniment from the ever fascinating Leo Genovese.

Nascimento’s Encontros E Despedidas proceeds in almost piecemeal fashion, Genovese again best at shaping the serpentine main theme alongside Shorter’s ever enquiring tenor lines. Here, and indeed throughout, there is real sense of flying by ear, of instant response and participation in what are often very complex and abstract songs to negotiate.

Finally, the driving, percussive Drummers Song passes all too quickly before the band slides into Midnight In Carlotta’s Hair, Shorter’s tenor and Spalding’s vocals acting like the front line of a two-horn quintet. The double LP version of this album adds a concluding bonus track, Carly Simon’s The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of (A Conversation).

Terri Lynne Carrington records that while the band rehearsed some of the themes during the day, that preparation was the result of “our lives and profound experiences with each other”. What they performed went far beyond their own plans and expectations, a coming together of a group that really did build the musical plane as they flew it.

Discography
Someplace Called “Where”; Endangered Species; Encontros E Despedidas; Drummers Song; Midnight In Carlotta’s Hair (55.37)
Wayne Shorter (ss, ts); Terri Lyne Carrington (d); Leo Genovese (p, kyb); Esperanda Spalding (v, b). Detroit Jazz Festival, 3 September 2017.
Candid Records CLP32301