For my twin and me, there's no higher commendation of a social gathering than for it to be worthy of accompaniment by saxophonist/composer/bandleader Wayne Shorter's 1974 masterpiece, Native Dancer. That's how I like to consider Shorter—with the delicate, dizzying opener, "Ponta de Areia" (featuring its author, Milton Nascimento), dancing like a sugarplum at the edge of my consciousness—as a warm, human co-conspirator to our time of innocence in a black bohemian world when jazz was still a lived thing, an everyday presence, not a museum culture to be coldly enshrined in institutions under the aegis of self-appointed native scouts nor fixed to suit Linnaeus on pristine boxed sets. At 75, Shorter is definitely one of the last of jazz's titans, duly revered for his ascendance from Blakey's Jazz Messengers and Miles's second hallowed quintet to Weather Report and notable collaborations with rock orbit auteurs Joni Mitchell and Steely Dan. This birthday program, premiering Shorter's first-ever classical commission, Terra Incognita, is a good opportunity to honor his legacy. Wayne Shorter Quartet with the Imani Winds.
Tue., Dec. 2, 8 p.m., 2008