Other Places: A Shorter Review

The massive Detroit Jazz Festival happens over Labor Day weekend. Because it collects an astonishing array of major musicians and presents them in outdoor performances at no charge, it is a festival I have long meant to attend some day. Rifftides reader Larry Peterson has gone several times. He sent a message about Wayne Shorter (photo by Jarrad Henderson) that made me wish this had been my year.

Walking to a concert of Duke Ellington’s Sacred Music from Hart Plaza, where Kenny Garrett failed to capture my interest, I asked a guy wearing a Media pass if he might be Mark Stryker, and he was. I introduced myself as the person you urged him to meet a few years ago when I was headed to the Detroit festival.
Then we talked about the performance Wayne Shorter’s Quartet gave last night. Only a short while before I ran into Mark, I had begun to wonder if the performance had ruined my prospects for ever enjoying another concert, because the experience of listening and seeing the playful, joyous interaction of the players was so amazing, thrilling, and satisfying.

 Mark was also thrilled. He referred me to his review of the concert.

And I, in turn, refer you to the column by Mr. Stryker, the music critic of The Detroit Free Press, who wrote that Shorter’s group performed,

…the most thrilling and transcendent set of music that I have heard in 17 years of attending the event.”

To read Mark’s entire account, click here.

As an indication of the reaction, interaction, close listening and mutual support that Mark and Larry observed, here’s a sample of the Shorter quartet in 2010 at Jazz à Vienne, France.

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  1. says

    One man’s genius may be another man’s klutz. I was less impressed with Shorter than with Wynton, whose sextet (with Blanding and Anderson) smoked; Poncho Sanchez with special guest Terence Blanchard—doing several tunes by Dizzy; and Bernard Purdie (Reuben Wilson, Grant Green, Jr. and special guest Donald Harrison) and his top shelf Soul Jazz.

    One thing for certain is that Detroit, under a new regime, has thrown down the gauntlet. Make no mistake, this is a jazz festival with major representatives from all styles and other festivals have a new standard to meet.

  2. Mark Stryker says

    Yes, you have to make it out here for the festival. Maybe next year — it’s a great party. In any case, perhaps your readers would be interested in reading more about this year’s festival. Here are links to our coverage from the past weekend, including reviews and a major profile of the patriarch of the Detroit scene, trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, A slightly expanded version of the Belgrave piece will appear in my upcoming book about modern and contemporary jazz musicians from Detroit (Univ. of Michigan Press, expected publication 2014).