Trish Clowes on Wayne Shorter: Why I Love

Gareth Allen has flown the At The Barrier flag for Trish Clowes after reviewing her album A View With A Room (“a jazz album to treasure”) and witnessing a stunning live performance at the Blue Arrow Jazz Club in Glasgow (our review). We complete the ATB holy trinity by adding Trish’s own words in a Why I Love feature where she explains her admiration for Wayne Shorter…

People who know me have heard this many times before, but for those new to me and my music, my musical hero is the saxophonist & composer Wayne Shorter. Some may know him from the band Weather Report, which he co-led with Joe Zawinul (1970-86), and earlier in his career he played with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers before joining Miles Davis’s group (the ‘second quintet’). Across Shorter’s output with Blakey, Davis, his own records, Herbie Hancock, Joni Mitchell, and many many other artists, for me, he has re-defined what the role of the saxophonist can be. I am unashamedly a total ‘Wayne-head’ – and incidentally, so is my new label boss, trumpet legend Dave Douglas, who is artistic director of Greenleaf Music (the home of my very recent album with my band MY IRIS, ‘A View with a Room’).

I first came across Shorter in my mid-late teens, through listening to recordings (initially jazz CD compilations brought home by my dad), playing in big band (e.g. an arrangement of Birdland, one of Weather Report’s most famous tracks), and then learning tunes from the ‘Real book’ with other jazz-interested friends – I suddenly realised all my favourite tunes were written by Shorter. It was when I was about 17 that Shorter’s most recent quartet – with Danilo Perez, John Patitucci and Brian Blade – started touring and releasing albums. I first went to hear them play in London in 2001 (I was living in Shropshire at the time, where I was born). I was utterly captivated by the quartet’s approach to improvising together, and went away with a new view on what music could be. I must have listened to their album ‘Footprints Live!’ for at least 18 months straight, and I have since heard them play live countless times.

As a student, I remember asking both John Patitucci and Dave Holland about playing with Shorter, when each of them had visited my music college in London to do masterclasses… I took every opportunity to gain an understanding of how Shorter makes his music. I have also sat in on his rehearsals and soundchecks, quizzed his sound engineer… and I have had the honour of meeting and talking to Shorter himself. Some people say ‘never meet your heroes’… but in this case, he was even more inspiring in person than I could have possibly imagined.

Shorter is a massive Sci-Fi fan and film buff, and these interests run through his music. He actually quotes a bit of John Williams’s score from Jurassic Park during one of the tracks on Footprints Live! When I met him, he got me onto the movie Serenity, which is a bit of a cult classic, coming off the back of the Firefly TV series – both of which are now firm favourites of mine. And while we’re on the subject of films, you can listen out for a cameo appearance from him on the soundtrack for The Fugitive (the score was written by James Newton Howard).

I’ll finish by sharing some of my favourite albums/tracks (by no means a definitive list…! and in no particular order). I hope you enjoy…!

  1. Children Of The Night – with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, from the album Mosaic (1961), which then reappears on Shorter’s own album High Life (1995)

2. Autumn Leaves – from Miles in Berlin (1964)

3. Speak No Evil (1966)

4. Footprints – from Davis’s Miles Smiles (1967)

5. Iris – from Miles Davis/E.S.P. (1965)

6. Masqualero – on Miles Davis/The Sorcerer (1967) and Footprints Live! (2002)

7. Duo track w/ Zawinul on The Legendary Live Tapes (1978-81) – Joe and Wayne Duet (1978)

8. Weather Report: Live In Tokyo (1972)

9. Joy Ryder (1988) – in particular Someplace called ‘Where’

10. A Case Of You With Joni Mitchell, from Both Sides Now (2000)

11. Sex Kills with Joni Mitchell, from Travelogue (2002)

12. Beyond the Sound Barrier (2005) – the tracks Joy Ryder, and Tinker Bell before it

13. Without a Net (2013) – love the epic track Pegasus, his quartet with a wind group

14. The Man I Love, from Herbie Hancock’s Gershwin’s World (1998), also with Joni Mitchell

Here’s Trish’s Amber from the A Room With A View album:

Our grateful thanks to Trish for taking some time to share her passions.

Trish & Her band, My Iris. photo: Rose Hendry

For more information about Trish Clowes: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

You can read more from our extensive archive of Why I Love pieces from a wide array of artists on an even wider array of subjects, here.

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