Wayne Shorter Quartet

Without A Net

(Blue Note)

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Don't be misled by the presence in the track list of Orbits (from Shorter's time with Miles Davis in the 1960s), Plaza Real (from his Weather Report days) or the theme tune of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers's first on-screen pairing, Flying Down To Rio. The great saxophonist is still moving forward as he enters his 80th year and, on the evidence of this, his first album for Blue Note in 43 years, he's still taking his quartet of master musicians to the edge, performing, as the album title suggests, without a net. By turns plaintive, profound, playful, rhapsodic, searching, cathartic and joyful, this is a fascinating in-concert document of arguably the most creative group in jazz today (augmented on the 23-minute Pegasus by the Imani wind quartet) creating thrills such as Shorter's soprano riding over drummer Brian Blade's glorious clatter on Starry Night and the band interaction that develops Plaza Real's Morse code-like melody into grooving, almost dancing freebop.

Rob Adams