Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Wayne Shorter's Footprints & Aung San Suu Kyi

Last Sunday I had the chance to roam around Sioux Falls, and stopped at the Last Chance CD Shop.  Or was it the Last Stop?  Anyway, it was one of those rare places trading in used pieces of circular plastic pregnant with signal: CDs, DVDs, and video games.

I didn't expect much, so I was pleasantly surprised to find cheap copies of Sam Rivers' Dimensions and Extensions, and Wayne Shorter's Footprints Live!.  I am still not sure about Rivers, a substantial figure in avant garde jazz.  

I am a little bit embarrassed to admit that I didn't already own a copy of Footprints Live!, claiming as I do the post of high priest in the cult of Shorter.  See my Guide to Wayne Shorter and Guide to Wayne Shorter 2.  The links to the samples don't work yet, as I haven't replaced them with drop.box files.  I'll try to get to that this week.  

Anyway, I drove back to Aberdeen through a nightmarish snow and the next day was a snow day.  Instead of teaching class, I found myself in my study at home, listing to Shorter's 2001 show.  The music blended perfectly with the shadows in the room and the whiteout conditions visible through my window.  It gave me the same warm feeling deep down where I live that the cup of hot tea was giving my belly (deep down where I live).  Both Wayne and his music still make that essential offer: common, he said, I'll give ya shelter from the storm.  

Footprints Live! is a wonderful recording.  Danilo Perez plays piano.  I don't know him, musically speaking.  But I know and have blogged on John Patitucci who plays bass, and I know Brian Blade.  The band is exquisite, laying down a subtle and deeply sensitive background for Wayne's playing.  The old man, meanwhile, has that heart that lives in a horn.  Every line is a meditation on some romantic and more or less supernatural landscape in his Gothic imagination.  Two of my favorite Shorter compositions are on it: 'Footprints', of course, and 'Juju'.

There is also a tribute to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.  For anyone who doesn't know, Suu is the hero of the Burmese Democracy movement.  Burma suffers under one of the worst gangster regimes.  Suu has been under house arrest for decades, and goes for long periods without outside contacts.  She is also a Buddhist, which is probably among the reasons that Shorter and I were drawn to her.  At her website you will find the admonition: "please use your liberty to promote ours."  There are worse things than slick roads and poor visibility.  

Here is Wayne's tribute:
Aung San Suu Kyi

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