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Danilo Pérez, Wayne Shorter,  John Patitucci and Brian Blade.

Sunday night the 2015 Earshot Jazz Festival presented one of the best performances of the year at Benaroya Hall, the Wayne Shorter Quartet.

One of the most influential saxophonists and composers in the pantheon of modern music, let alone jazz, Wayne Shorter has an outstanding record of professional achievement in his historic career as a musician. Regarded as a pioneer since his emergence in the 1950s, his trajectory has restlessly embodied continual exploration and unencumbered momentum. A generation of musicians and fans see and hear him as a humble master who created a timeless vocabulary – as vital as it is unbound.

His long-running quartet features pianist Danilo Pérez, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Brian Blade. Reviews of the group’s live performances are exercises in superlative overload. Calling it “the most skillful, mutually attuned and fearlessly adventurous small jazz group on the planet,” The Guardian said that the quartet “celebrates humanity’s hope for harmony.”

Shorter won in three categories of the 2014 Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Awards, taking honors for Musician of the Year; Record of the Year for his quartet’s searing Blue Note release, Without A Net; and the Wayne Shorter Quartet was named top Midsize Ensemble of the Year.

If the prolific composer had never written a single tune, his signature sound and choice of notes, sense of economy and unparalleled expression on both tenor and soprano saxes would have earmarked him for greatness. Combine the writing prowess with the fragmented, probing solos and the enigmatic Buddhist philosopher presence and you have the makings of a jazz immortal.

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