Stormy Mondays | End Of Summer Jazz Mix

It’s hard to argue that there could even be an important jazz tour in the modern music scene. The nature and marketing of the music lends itself to multi-night residencies at smaller clubs for the most part, and it could easily be weeks between such stints, even when a band or performer is supporting a new release. But I want to close out the summer with just such an event from ten years ago, when long time collaborators Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland and Wayne Shorter brought Brian Blade along on a groundbreaking European/American summer tour. While recordings of American dates are a bit hard to come by, the European leg circulates widely in its entirety, and in listening to it, one can hear the music quickly evolve from safer though pensive first steps to performances that, as Herbie says, “have moved beyond songs.”

That movement is so important because it led directly to a shift in the music of the Wayne Shorter Quartet, which includes Brian Blade. That group came together right at the turn of the century, but it is only after this tour that it began to abandon proper songs (for the most part) and instead embarked on nearly cinematic explorations of freeform improvisation, with hints and teases and codas serving as distant signposts along the way. The movement beyond song by HSHB allowed for the blossoming of what has come to be known as the greatest band of improvisers on the planet.

From the end of the European tour, we have a gorgeous “Sonrisa,” which quickly slips into that spontaneous film score feeling that so greatly characterizes the best WSQ performances, followed by an expansive “Pathways.” Holland’s opening bass solo here is truly stunning, and worth the download on its own. Shorter’s dramatic “Prometheus Unbound,” with Blade’s explosive drumming on display, and an open take on Herbie’s classic “Cantaloupe Island” close just a sampling of profoundly inspired virtuosity and improvisation at its very best. As always, enjoy!


Written By: Dan Alford