Movies: Wayne Shorter – Live at Montreux, 1996 (2008)

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“Live at Montreux,” which focuses on tunes from Wayne Shorter’s then-new album “High Life,” might have been just another night in a lifetime of concert dates — if not for the former Miles Davis sideman’s still prodigious, almost hypnotic ability on the sax.

That, and some bonus cuts from Montreux performances by Shorter in 1991-92, courtesy of Eagle Rock Entertainment and featuring former Davis bandmate Herbie Hancock. Together, this initial hour-long set expands by another 40 brilliant minutes — with a Davis tribute as its capstone.

The Grammy award-winning “High Life” actually marked Wayne Shorter’s return to bandleading after a seven-year haitus. James Beard appears on keyboards, David Gilmore plays guitar, Alphonso Johnson is on bass and Rodney Holmes is at the drums. Gilmore, not to be confused with the Pink Floyd guy, was part of the fusion band Lost Tribe and has done sessions work with Isaac Hayes and Mavis Staples, among others.)

Johnson — a bassist in Weather Report, Shorter’s famous fusion band with keyboardist Joe Zawinul — opens the date with a rumbling intro during “On the Milky Way Express.” (Producer Marcus Miller appeared on the original.) Shorter takes notable turns on soprano here, on “Endangered Species” and during “At the Fair” from “High Life.”

“Children of the Night,” also included on that back-to-form album on Verve, is a very funky update of a tune Shorter often performed (in a far more convention form, of course) with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in the mid-1960s. Back on tenor, Shorter offers a tune reminescent of Steely Dan’s jazzier moments — with an assist by Beard and Holmes, who performed in Zawinul’s post-Weather Report group, the Syndicate.

The set is rounded out with a scuffed-up rendition of “Endangered Species” (embedded below) from the “Atlantis” CD, a perhaps too-smooth 1985 Shorter solo recording issued in the aftermath of Weather Report; and “Over the Shadow Hill Way” from 1988’s “Joy Ryder” on Columbia.

The Shorter/Hancock dates include “Footprints” and a second pass at “On the Milky Way Express” in 1991, and then Shorter’s Miles Davis group-era composition “Pinocchio” and “Pee Wee/Theme” from ’92 — both with an introduction by Quincy Jones.

The first date features bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Omar Hakim, another connection with Weather Report. The second nearly overshadows the entire project: Shorter and Hancock, in the aftermath of Davis’ passing, pay loving tribute to their former boss in a set that also includes bassist Ron Carter, drummer Tony Williams and trumpeter Wallace Roney, a Davis protege.

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