Wayne Shorter brings his famous quartet to Toronto

Massey Hall must be the perfect concave space in Toronto to contain the sounds of an acoustic jazz quartet.

Judging by the numbers present last Saturday night to see Wayne Shorter (sax), John Patitucci (bass), Danilo Perez (piano) and Brian Blade (drums), this kinda jazz has never been more popular in T.O.

One wonders then why fusion jazz and modern jazz seem to be sparse on the city’s JAZZ FM station, in clubs and during festivals (well, to be honest, that seems to change with the TD Toronto Jazz Fest in the past couple of years, since Josh Grossman took over the artistic director job).

Massey Hall’s booklet included 2 pages on Wayne Shorter, and not a single word of his Weather Report years.


Wayne Shorter quartet live in Milan 2010- they looked the same last night in Toronto. Photo by Mattia Luigi Nappi

A friend of mine from Romania asks me “why? wayne shorter? is he still around?”

Yes he is, praise the Lord – I said. Which I can’t say about his Weather Report co-leader, Joe Zawinul (fortunately I saw him in the 90s in Bucharest).

At 77, Wayne’s role is more of a mentor, but he made it to the end of the 100 minutes of the show standing, and reminding us of his brilliance in crafting a sound, a groove, a band.

There was little consideration to the business of the show (they said no words, the second track played lasted 50 minutes etc.) in true free-jazz spirit.

Wayne used 2 saxes, an alto and a tenor, and allowed ample space to his brilliant band members.

Now that I saw him I know why his name is Shorter. Another matching his physique to his last name is mr. Brian Blade. Thin as the cutting part of a sword, Brian Blade worked his genius, occasionally striking a forceful shot in his giant cymbals.

Patitucci is as full of life as I saw him first, watching videos behind the Iron Curtain in the late 80s, and he is an entertainer for sure.

The big discovery for me was Danilo Perez, the piano player in Wayne Shorter quartet. I am ashamed of not knowing much about him before the concert, but he is definitely under my radar now.

Photo credits: Mattia Luigi Nappi – thank you.


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