Wayne Shorter | Beyond The Sound Barrier – [Verve Records, 2005]When I first heard Wayne Shorter’s “comeback” album, 2002’s Footprints! Live, I was totally blown away. At nearly 70 years of age, Shorter had founded one of modern jazz’s most innovative, explosive, energetic bands. Now with their second live album, the quartet ups the ante. “Beyond the Sound Barrier” should be heavily considered for the best jazz album of the year, and could also be one of the best in Shorter’s long, dynamic career. Here, the band plays with more energy and passion than they did on Footprints Live. The whole atmosphere seems to have been super-charged here. The band, after a moody, ethereal intro, really gets rocking about halfway through the opening track, a TOTALLY SUBVERSIVE cover of the 1941 film theme, “Smilin’ Through“.
That subversion and highly cerebral mood continues throughout much of the album. Shorter’s work on soprano is some of the most extreme, impassioned playing I’ve ever heard. And he is constantly supported by his equally talented rhythm section of Danilo Perez, John Patitucci and Brian Blade. The band has an almost uncanny ability to turn on a dime from quiet and restrained to wild and boiling.
Everyone who calls themselves a jazz fan ought to run out to the store and buy this album right now! —Max Marshall
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