Don Was didn’t waste any time signing Wayne Shorter to Blue Note Records. The day after he was named chief creative officer of the label in August 2011, Was found himself on a plane to Paris with his friend Ken Hertz—who happens to be Shorter’s lawyer. “I said, ‘I just got this gig. What would it take to get Wayne on Blue Note?’” Was, who has since been promoted to label president, recalls. “And it just happened. He had just left his last label. It was amazing.”
Shorter last recorded for Blue Note more than 40 years ago, but ever the musical progressive, he had no desire to revisit past glories—there would be no JuJu 2 or Speak No Evil Revisited coming from him. “What Wayne does with his music mirrors what we want to do with the label, which is to have it rooted in a tradition and yet not trade in nostalgia,” says Was. “We’re looking to apply the aesthetic to 2013 and beyond.”
The decision to release Without a Net, a compilation of live tracks, as his first new Blue Note project was strictly Shorter’s. “Some of these things were recorded before I ever approached him,” says Was, who readily agreed to what Shorter had in mind. “This [quartet] happens to be great live, and every show is really different. He takes this journey, and he just decided to piece together bits from multiple journeys. The audience and their response is also a factor in where they take the music. But if we had told everyone it all came from one night, I think they’d believe it,” he says.
“It means a whole lot to me as a fan of Blue Note to have Wayne on the label,” Was adds, “and even if I wasn’t the president of the company it would mean a lot to the order of the world.”
Bray Jazz returns for its 14th edition during the BankHoliday weekend of May 3rd to 5th with an exciting and varied line-up that will appeal to lovers of jazz in its many incarnations.
Headlining Ireland’s premier annual celebration of jazz is Brazilian pianist Eliane Elias. In along and distinguished career, the New York-based pianist and vocalist has recorded over twenty albums as a leader and has collaborated with pianist Herbie Hancock, saxophonist Michael Brecker and guitarist/singer Gilberto Gil. Equally conversant in classical, bossa nova and
jazz idioms, Elias’ undoubted technical expertise never overshadows the strong emotional vein in her playing.
A Grammy nominee and winner of Downbeat’s Best Jazz Album, Elias appears in her trio alongside legendary bassist Marc Johnson—pianist Bill Evans’s last bassist—and guitarist Steve Cardenas. The Bray crowd is in for a treat and can expect to hear compositions from Elias acclaimed album Swept Away (ECM, 2012) as well as from her forthcoming release, I Thought about You (Concord Jazz, 2013) – the pianist/singer’s tribute to trumpeter Chet Baker.
Elias and her trio will perform in the Mermaid Arts Center on Sunday 5th May.
Other festival highlights include innovative guitarist Christy Doran’s New Bag, which incorporates elements of jazz, electronica and progressive rock in a fascinating mix - watch out for Doran’s much talked about Swiss vocalist Sarah Buechi, whose THALi scored such a big hit at the 12 Points Festival in Dublin in February. French trumpeter Médéric Collignon is another gig not to be missed. He brings his idiosyncratic talents to reinterpretations of the music of trumpeter Miles Davis and progressive rock band King Crimson.
Musicians from Turkey, Serbia, Greece, Sweden, Norway, Scotland and America are testament not only to jazz’s universal identity, but to the global vision of Bray Jazz Festival. Local talent is represented by saxophonist Michael Buckley’s band and one of Ireland’s most original outfits, the multi-national Yurodny.
Over forty concerts, recitals, free gigs and workshops will serve up jazz and good vibes galore in Bray, Ireland’s oldest seaside town, nestled at the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains just a short trip from Dublin. It promises to be a great weekend for lovers of jazz and creative music.