WAYNE SHORTER — Moto Grosso Feio (review)

WAYNE SHORTER — Moto Grosso Feio album cover Album · 1974 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Sean Trane
Weird how some sessions fit to make full album get lost or forgotten in the vaults of some of the biggest labels, Blue Note in this case. And just get a load of the participants to Shorter’s second session of that day (the first session had produced the tracks that would make Odyssey Of Iska): Corea & McL (ja, man!!), Carter & Holland (believe, man!!), with only the unknown being a Belgian teenage girl Michelin Prell (whom Shorter had known since infancy) to insure the percussions. Well, it’s when some contract dispute (his moving from Blue Note to Columbia, where he was already with WR) in 75 (five years after its recording) that this session was remembered and finally located (not labelled) and finally released under a quickly thought-out Brazilian-sounding album, just like most tracks on MGF bore Latin names.

OK, Shorter’s fascination with Brazilian music and language played a role (his wife was Portuguese) in these names, but you won’t find much music that’s really related to Latino music, except maybe the cover of Nascimento’s Vera Cruz. Indeed, most of the tracks are very much in the dissonant avant-garde and free-jazz mode, although it’s still fairly listenable to relatively profane ears (IMHO, at least), but please investigate, rather than take my words for granted. Opening on McL’s acoustic guitar, underlined by Carter’s cello, the 12-mins+ title track is an enchanting and relatively haunting stroll in the Matto Grosso forest, where Shorter’s sax puts a spell on us, before some obtrusive (for the calm climates) drums interventions leap out like hungry jaguar. While the calm returns quickly, the serenity is not as evident, now that we are aware of the menaces that can abound. Montezuma opens a tad more traditionally and might just be the most accessible track of the album, but it’s definitely no cinch either: Prell’s amazing and intuitive drumming is purposely up front in the mix like it would be in some of the best Sun Ra albums, and Carter’s cello shines. Great stuff

On the flipside, Antigua is again starting rather standard, but quickly digresses into dissonant territory, although there is again nothing Latino about the music. Nascimento’s Vera Cruz plunges directly in the inner realms of Shorter’s explorative mood, and there are again not much South American ambiances in there. The album closes on another version of Wayne’s Iska (his baby daughter’s name, Jessica in Hebrew), which is probably the more difficult piece on the album, with McL’s guitar often crossing the sanity borderline, but the amazing presence of the teenage girl Prell is probably the nail that closes the coffin down into the grave. Astounding stuff, but not for the faint-hearted, though.

Sooo, despite a totally different line-up, MGF is fairly close to its older brother OoI and it’s actually quite hard to imagine that the later session found oblivion for years and only resurfaced by some lucky obstinacy. Personally I even tend to prefer the forgotten brother, but only marginally so.

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