Wayne Shorter Quartet - Without A Net (4 stars)

Ingenious chamber jazz from 79-year-old saxophone legend

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Wayne Shorter Quartet - Without A Net

(Blue Note)

Wayne Shorter's first album for Blue Note in 43 years is not quite the daredevil leap into freedom its title might suggest, but it does show the 79-year-old saxophone legend in inquisitive form, leading his superb group through an artful set of freebop and European influenced jazz. Shorter revisits his past by reworking Miles Davis's 'Orbits' into something dark and angular, with Danilo Perez's ominous piano channelling Holst's 'Mars' while Shorter's soprano sax flits restlessly between the main theme and giddy abstractions.

Drummer Brian Blade's deconstructed metres and oblique interventions bring a sense of freedom to even the more structured compositions, such as the classically-influenced 'Pegasus'. As a sprightly and elegant theme gives way to a head-spinning Shorter improvisation, one audience member is moved to exclaim 'oh my god'. And who can blame him? 'Flying Down To Rio', meanwhile, sees Fred Astaire dancing on the moon. Ingenious chamber jazz.

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