So I bought Wayne Shorter's "Alegria" last week and I do now really like it - but the surprise is that it is everything that the recent concerts were not!! So there was a lot of criticism here and amongst musician friends I have talked to, of the recent concert tour. But with basically the same band - Perez,Pattituci, Blade - the new album has : Great tunes - recognisable melodies Interesting arrangements - almost orchestral Great grooves - some really nice percussion-led grroving Lots of supportive rhythm section playing with Wayne soloing I am still getting into it - but my regular newspaper, the Guardian - made it CD of the week! Not just "Jazz" CD of the week - but out of all the pop/rock/orchestral etc. CDs of the week. In fact they devoted the first whole page of their review section to this CD! Here's their review : John L Walters Friday March 21, 2003 The Guardian Saxophonist Wayne Shorter still towers over jazz. For the past four decades he has combined compositional flair with an original and masterly command of tenor and soprano sax improvisation, as the front-line junior in two great Miles Davis bands, as Joe Zawinul's equal partner in Weather Report and as a solo artist since his 1960s Blue Note records. Solo albums such as Atlantis and Native Dancer are full of gems; his haiku-like contributions to platinum discs by Joni Mitchell and Steely Dan are moments to treasure. Yet some of us found it difficult to join in the chorus of high praise that greeted Shorter's 2002 release, Footprints Live (Verve). True, we had been starved of new releases by the great man for so long that anything was welcome, but this album, by Shorter's regular quartet (with bassist John Patitucci, drummer Brian Blade and Panamanian pianist Danilo Perez) was just a very good live concert recording. It makes a nice gig souvenir, with some impressive playing, but it is not a "great album" in the sense of a work that invites repeated playing; that can communicate beyond the central core of fans and musicians. Alegria is such an album. It has been so long since a major label produced a new studio-recorded jazz CD of this stature and quality that seasoned jazzbos may need to lie down for a bit in a darkened room. Every track is different - each song has a separate identity, sound and feeling. It can feel like a completely different album, depending on your mood, or the time of day, or how much concentration you are prepared to devote to it. Take the opening track, Sacajawea (a name inspired by Shorter's American Indian ancestry), played by his quartet. A joyous soprano sax cadenza leads the band into a classic jazz ensemble piece - funky in the non-fusion sense. But it is more than a quartet - Shorter overdubs himself on tenor and soprano, recreating the intimate front-line sound that he had with trumpeters such as Freddie Hubbard, or Miles Davis, on those 1960s recordings. Angola is a number that dates from that era, now reinterpreted with a deep acoustic pulse from drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and former Weather Report percussionist Alex Acuna. This is as rich and complex as Shorter's best tunes for that influential band, except that here the snaking riffs and chunky chords are for bass clarinet and brass section rather than synth and Rhodes. Twelfth Century Carol also hints at the "World Music in space" sound that Weather Report pioneered in the 1970s, with a Gil Evans-like, seven-piece brass section and Acuna locking into another great Patitucci/Carrington groove. Vendiendo Alegria, a beautiful ballad by Milka Himel and Joso Spralja, starts as a moving feature for Shorter's emotion-drenched soprano before kicking into Latin jazz orchestra mode. The creative arrangement of Leroy Anderson's Serenata is a six-minute concerto for Shorter's soprano, with woodwind quartet, cello and a restrained rhythm section including pianist Brad Mehldau. The similarly voiced Orbits is a re-imagining of another old Shorter tune, featuring the saxophonist at his most "out" against a delicately scored ensemble. Bachianas Brasileiras No 5 is an arrangement of Villa-Lobos's enduring (if overexposed) classical hit by producer Robert Sadin for cello ensemble, bass and percussion. After the long, solo cello theme statement, Shorter engages in thoughtful but characteristically oblique dialogue with the music. And there's the surprise choice of She Moved Through the Fair, the Irish traditional song made iconic by Margaret Barry's late 1950s version. Shorter's, for the quartet, is equally subtle: tenor and soprano sax against bass, fragile piano and Brian Blade's impossibly quiet drums - it's as if he is merely breathing on the cymbals. The closing Capricorn II shows the quartet at its most introspective and brilliant: just tenor, bass, piano and drums. Sadin's production of Alegria is superb throughout. The sympathetic selection of material and musicians, the attention to sonic detail and the way each cut reveals a different facet of Shorter at his very best - as composer, as bandleader, and as one of the world's great musicians - mark out Sadin as an outstanding jazz producer. As for Shorter, his ability with structure and part-writing, along with a sensitivity to timbre and melody, confirms his reputation as one of the great jazz composer-players. Alegria is an album in which you keep making new discoveries. As a DJ friend said to me: "It's a real grower." I can vouch for that - I've been listening to it for weeks, and it sounds great everywhere - in the lounge, study or kitchen, on long train journeys, on urban drifts with a personal stereo and, of course, when lying down in a darkened room.