Wayne Shorter is the guest with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra this weekend, performing new arrangements by the members of the orchestra of compositions by Mr. Shorter spanning 50 years. At 81 years old he looks and sounds easily 15 years younger. He certainly hasn’t lost that distinctive, soulful sound that has graced some of the most revered recordings of all time.
It has been more than inspiring hearing Mr. Shorter in person after only hearing his recordings all theses years: it has been an education. Hearing him in close proximity I am learning so much about music and being a musician during these rehearsals.
I did an arrangement of Diana (pronounced “Gee-onna” Wayne corrected) from the 1974 release Native Dancer. It was a difficult piece to reimagine for a big band: finding a balance between the transparent sound and subtle implications of the original recording and the density (and sometimes lesser flexibility) of the big band was a challenge. But, as with all new arrangements, we are finding a way to let the music take shape during the rehearsal process. Mr. Shorter himself has been more than flexible. His ability to be truly in the moment is having a great affect on all of us.