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4.4 out of 5 stars
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 5 February 2013
5 BRILLIANT Stars! Wayne Shorter's first Blue Note recording in decades is "Without A Net", capturing one of the most influential and riveting groups on the jazz scene in recent years, recorded live mostly on tour in Europe and one mega-track with guests in Los Angeles. On the CD, this all-star group excels at the art of spontaneous composition and exciting interplay and improvisation. The famed composer, tenor and soprano sax giant's all star group consists of the stylings of Danilo Perez on piano, John Patitucci on bass, Brian Blade on drums. The 'best of the best' begins with the classic "Orbits" from Wayne's halcyon days with Miles Davis beginning with Perez' bottom bass notes contrasting Wayne's soprano sax, and the edgy, soaring beauty of "Plaza Real" from his Weather Report days. Other outstanding performances include the awesome "Zero Gravity to the 10th Power", "S.S. Golden Mean" with Shorter quoting directly from "Manteca" over an insistent vamp, and perhaps best of all, the 23 minute wonderfully-arranged "Pegasus" with The IMani Winds as an integral part of the Los Angeles proceedings, plus an out-of-this-world "Flying Down to Rio", with heroic Perez pianism, from the European tour is flat out amazing. At age 79, Wayne Shorter is at the height of his musical powers and still pushing the envelope 2 decades into the 21st Century with this exceptional group here playing classics and 6 new compositions and it gets My Highest Recommendation. "I dare you", indeed! Five EXCELLENT Stars.
(9 tracks; 77 minutes:27 seconds. Based strongly on this recording and live performances, seven months after this review, Wayne Shorter and group won top awards in 2013 from the DownBeat International Jazz Critics Poll: Jazz Artist, Soprano Sax, Jazz Group, and Jazz Album.)
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At 79 years old, Wayne Shorter and his quartet (together with a bunch of guest horn players as sidemen) have produced a kind of jazz masterpiece, the definitive statement to round off a long and illustrious career.

Always the quintessential musician's musician, Shorter remains true to his lifelong principles and emphatically refuses to play safe. `Without a Net' is a collection of the quartet's onstage performances from their recent European and US tours. Each of the nine pieces takes the basic theme of the number and then (usually - but not always - led by Shorter's sax) explores a new musical landscape through lengthy improvisation, the result by turns experimental and inventive, jarringly atonal or melodically sublime. An almost telepathic level of communication exists between these A-list musicians, each at the top of their game and collectively creating possibly the most seminal musical improvisations of our age. Each performance is unique, never-to-be-repeated.

Ambient background dinner party jazz this definitely ain't. What Shorter offers the listener is jazz as high art: imaginative, never afraid to break boundaries, visionary and often delightfully unexpected.

The jewel-case and four-page foldout insert don't exactly make for a premium package, and the simple (though distinctive in an understated way) artwork is unlikely to be destined for `classic design' status either. But this music is deep, profound, courageous, sublime. Press `play', crank up the volume and prepare to be blown away by the sheer virtuosity and inventive brilliance about to assault your ears.
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on 16 February 2013
The current quartet of Wayne Shorter has been described as his best ever band and the most important group working in jazz at the moment. Despite being around for over a decade, this is only the third full outing on disc plus the mix and match studio session "Allegria." Like the earlier recordings on the quartet, this is another compilation of live recordings and such is the excellence of this group, there is nothing to really judge between them. Everythning this quartet puts out turns to gold dust and this record is typical in the way themese are dismantled and re-assembled in a fashion with a degree of telepathy that is akin to the chemistry of Miles Davis' lengendary quintet as captured on last year's "Bootleg series # volume 1." I really don't think there is another band which matches Shorter's for creativity. The dialogue between Shorter and Perez is as compelling as ever with Pattitucci anchoring the music in a fashion that is redefining the bass in small group jazz. As ever, Brian Blade's combastic hand-grenades certainly ensure that the music remains on it's toes and he playing bristles with excitement and joy. It's fantastic to hear old works like "Orbits" totally re-working or the old Weather Report number "Plaza Real" re-caste in a pretty outside fashion.

That said, the addition of the wind ensemble on the lengthy "Pegasus" neatly dovetails in to the ethos of the band and ensures that this is probably the strongest track on the whole album. Although the initial four minutes resemble something that could have been written by a classical composer in the first half of the 20th century, the whole nature of the composition changes with the introduction of the quartet with both the ante being considerably "upped" and the writing for the ensemble mirroring the more abstruct and no body solos / everybody solos aspect of the quartet. The melody of one of Shorter's best of late and somehow the ensemble manage to work up a riff to produce some of the most exciting playing on the whole record.

For my money anything Wayne Shorter puts out on record must be snapped up. The standard of this record certainly matches their previous efforts and I would suggest that the including of a wind ensemble on one track does add another dimension. No group is jazz currently plays so much real music per square inch as Wayne Shorter's quartet and even in early February this is looking like a shoe in for best jazz album of 2013. An essential purchase.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 February 2013
How appropriate that as he approaches his 80th birthday, Wayne Shorter comes back to the label that made his name. In fact this is a return in many ways. So in the February edition of JazzWise magazine he talks about how this is going back to where he left off with Miles' great Quintet that also included Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. If you hadn't read that interview, the first track here gives you a clue, as "Orbits" was written by Shorter for that band.

Much like the live band of The Complete Live At The Plugged Nickel 1965, themes in this live set can be short and cursory, leading to extended free improvisation. In the previously mentioned interview he explains how "rehearsals" just consist of the band determining not to play like they did the night before and making sure they don't repeat themselves.

So in this album we have 8 tracks recorded live on the road, where we hear how this band respond to each other and play in the moment. Plus there is a 23 minute track recorded with an extended wind band/section."Pegasus" is quite different and hints at a new direction for Wayne in the contemporary classical field. The "Imani Winds" play music written and arranged carefully and not freely improvised like the rest of the album - although the quartet do take this on into spontaneous territory.

In a way this album sums up the best of Shorter's brilliant career and puts him firmly at the top of his profession as both improvisor and composer. It goes without saying that all of the players here are virtuosos of the highest order, but none of the music is about showing off in any way and John Patitucci often takes a backseat, where he is very much the leader on his own records.

Nearly 80 minutes of great music from the best quartet playing in world Jazz today has got to be an essential purchase for any Jazz fans, although this is edgy music performed "without a net" on the cutting edge. I have my reservations about the cover art, which I didn't really like - but that's not going to stop anybody enjoying this new release from one of Jazz's longest-running artists.
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on 10 February 2014
Have to write because it is unundersandable to see some two-star reviews are written here on this album..
Seen him live with this super-band in a large hall ( Jazz festival North Sea jazz in Rotterdam) The place was crowded and a long line in front of the door waiting. That waiting was rewarded when about 5% came out after the first number..GOOD!
Immidiately the place was filled again and everybody stayed in, breathless..
Wayne plays inside himself, hardly any public-contact, but deep concentrated inner and near intuitive playing is coming out. Creating a kind of cupola over his listeners in wich they are gathered in sphere.. Miles could do that, it happened in concerts like the Koln Concert or Scala-concert of Keith Jarrett and it happens with Wayne.
Great fat piano, good band over all, life-recording, Over 76 minutes of sound,a very fantastic experience.
Wayne is on his top here, and alive is where and how he is to be heard.
Second best is here, on this CD.
Personally still think the CD ( from the LP) Sweet Nighter is best in earlier years with that stamping swing and this one clearly showing where he came..; In the field of the full-develloped Top !! Still that very personal tone and the yells coming from his horn..
It is a gift to be able to listen ánd hear this outcome. That hearing, the opened wideness of the ears and mind, enjoying the fields where these sounds bring you, is discovered and opened by concessionless players like Wayne Shorter.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 27 December 2015
This is a lot of Wayne Shorter, but can there ever be enough of this lovable veteran sax player.
At 77 minutes over nine tracks, recorded in 2013, one of the most quietly eloquent, lingeringly lyrical of musicians plays semi-free jazz with a trio featuring pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci, and Brian Blade on drums, all of whom complement each other and add their own special grace notes to the session. The results are hypnotic, beguiling, and at times very lovely.
Shorter plays both tenor and soprano saxes, and we get plenty of his uniquely oblique way with the instrument. Some of the track titles are expressive in themselves: Starry Night, Myrrh, Flying Down to Rio, Orbits...or the mighty 23-minute Pegasus, which flies along beautifully, calmly at first then really taking off on dashing wings of confidence and power.
The man is 82 now and still with us - for many more years I hope, and a few more albums this strong, unapologetic and compelling.

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on 3 January 2014
Breaks my heart to say this, but as a Wayne Shorter fan of more years than I care to remember - this much anticipated album is a real let down. As much of Wayne's career has been based on his excellent writing - the material here is non-existent. Just a buch of tuneless squwarking and complex time signatures without resolution.

I have seen this band play a few times, and in concert they are dynamite and inventive; but listening at home - just comes across as strained and contrived. The CD stays in the player for a a few songs and then gets turned off. Simple as that, I'm afraid - plays havoc with your tooth fillings and not one to impress your granny. The cat might appreciate it though - sounds like a bunch of tabbies in a midnight chorus.

However, if this band is your fave, then I would recommend Wayne's ALEGRIA album of a few years ago which has great tunes & arrangements. It seemed to slip a bit under the radar at the time, but one for re-assessment.
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on 16 May 2013
I'm a great admirer of Wayne Shorter but there are times - such as this - when at least to my mind he disappears up his proverbial without a tune. Well played and all that but without soul.
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on 28 April 2013
Again, a great recording by the Shorter Quartet, a little more abstract than the previous live album "Beyond The Sound Barrier". One of the best groups around in contemporary jazz...
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on 31 July 2013
Jazz lovers should not miss out on this great recording which presents Shorter at his fluent best. How that man can play and the accompanying rhythm section does him proud.
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