Alan Shorter | TES ESAT

Verve/Free America 3 Tracks Recorded 1970, Paris

In the turbulent 60's — with the U.S. anti-war movement, the rise of Black Power and a politicized youth movement growing — the winds of innovation and change blew briefly, but clearly, through Alan Shorter.

In this European recording, it seems, Alan's music can be heard as both idiosyncratic and original, or it can be heard as music with clear and great promise.

The late Alan Shorter is the older brother of Wayne Shorter. Alan has cult status in free jazz history, and therefore this CD, TES ESAT — I don't know what this means — and I suspect it's not an anagram, this CD contains a lot of delights.

In TES ESAT, Shorter's horn playing (fluegelhorn) often takes second place to his desire for a humanized group sound (witness Shorter's creative talking in the background) while Johnny Dyani flits like a firefly over the neck of his bass, and drummer René Augustus spreads out a communal carpet-like rhythm for Shorter's repeated horn trills which suggest stillness pitted against the whirling, high rubbery squealing of Gary Windo's intense tenor saxophone; later the surprise of Dyani's streaming piano, with its high/low register shifts and abrupt high register sweeps, pulls our minds into the music; and later there's the slow pulse of tenor/fluegel in unison, anthem-like, bringing the sound home to a relaxed conclusion.

"Beast of Bash" is a brief duet between a flitting pizzicato bass line and a unison horn sing-song, ending with the ever-present bassist Dyani, who answers the horns' last theme in a triumphant flourish of bowed bass.

In "One Million Squared", Dyani's bass is calm and conversational, as Shorter, then Shorter and Gary Windo state brief themes; eventually Dyani and drummer Augustus join in the flourishing conversation with Dyani frenetically bowing away under firm drum corps blasts from the two horns as the feeling grows that somehow there's a kind of implosion, a going inside, a sense that Alan Shorter is observing the music from a distance, a cool distance.

The music on this disc is environmental, it's a group sound with active memories, and in-the-moment propulsion toward new memories.

Alan Shorter — trumpet, fluegelhorn
Gary Windo — tenor saxophone
Johhny Dyani — double bass, flute, bamboo flute, piano, bells
Rene Augustus — drums, bells
You might want to listen to another Shorter CD from two years earlier:
Orgasm • Verve 314 557 094-2 • Recorded 1968 in New York City

Alan Shorter — fluegelhorn, trumpet, tambourine
Gato Barbieri — tenor sax
Charlie Haden & Reggie Johnson — basses
Muhammad Ali, Rashied Ali — drums
We welcome your comments and feedback
• • • • • •
Report by David Fujino
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for The Live Music Report

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