Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wayne Shorter - Phantom Navigator (1986) (mp3, 160kbps)

1986. Genesis have hits galore with 'Invisible Touch'. Peter Gabriel hits one out of the park with 'So'. Dire Straits are touring every corner of the globe in support of 'Brothers In Arms'. All of these albums were HUGE commercial successes by established artists, but none of them are sell-outs (If you disagree with that description, feel free to comment or get your own blog!). And these records have withstood the test of time. Twenty-three years later, I have a moment of thinking that old saying "the masses are asses" might be wrong.

And then I hear a record like 'Phantom Navigator'. The Wikipedia entry has nothing more than track listing and personnel. Allmusic features the following sentence in the review:
Nothing wrong with electronics per se; it's just that Wayne's compositions in that idiom are weak, the endlessly undulating melodic lines go nowhere and have nothing fresh to say.
There are no fewer than fourteen musicians scattered throughout the recording, and it seems like half of them are playing synthesizers. But something has happened. It started with Atlantis and its continuing here. The layering of melody over melody and the ever-changing flow of each song - it's all so carefully composed. People lamented the end of Wayne's career as an improvisational artist. But instead of stretching out his solos, the improv comes out in fits and bursts. And against the backdrop of such painstaking composition, the solos come charging out with such beautiful force. This is especially true on the experimental 'Yamanja', featuring Wayne on a furious lyricon solo. The overarching feeling is that every note must be in its right place and the song would not work unles each and every note were placed and played just so.

The other thing I would advise all the haters is that he's playing these songs now with his vaunted quartet. 'Forbidden Plan-It' and 'Flagships' are part of the current band's repertoire, in addition to other songs from this much maligned period of output. So, let's not hear about how he can't compose in a certain 'idiom' Whether it's with the Imani Winds at Carnegie Hall, an orchestra at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, or with a rotating cast of fusion all-stars, as on this record. These songs are exceptional.

Here's the info:
  1. "Condition Red" - 5:08
  2. "Mahogany Bird" - 6:10
  3. "Remote Control" - 7:55
  4. "Yamanja" - 6:28
  5. "Forbidden, Plan-It!" - 6:09
  6. "Flagships" - 6:35
All Compositions by Wayne Shorter
  • Recorded in Los Angeles, CA, 1986
The link is in the comments.


MPomy said...

Marlin said...

I am hunting for info on Wayne Shorter's use of the Lyricon. He plays it on Herbie Hancock's Karabali on Soundsystem album. This is quite possibly my favorite song on the planet. It just moves my spirit and has never failed to do so since I first heard it in the 80s.