You Be The Judge

Posted by: Dave Douglas on March 7, 2009 @ 11:37 am
Filed under: Dave Douglas (Artist Thoughts)

Author Dan Ouelette contributes some interesting Wayne Shorter comments from their recent talks. These are pulled from a conversation about music and art going on over at Facebook.

There’s no such thing as a short story. A short story is for marketing purposes only. Beethoven’s nine symphonies are all one.

What I’m doing is pounding at the door of creativity. That takes curiosity and courage to turn the handle and go through it. I want to let people know the door is there.

Re: his compositions, specifically Footprints: There’s no end-all, be-all version of that piece. Music has a way of telling what it needs, where it’s going. We like to put handcuffs on music. The musicmaker can get in the way.

Update: Larry Kart wrote in at Facebook with this story of how the original essay arose. Thanks, Larry.

Actually, “Creativity and Change” was (or began as) an interview I did with Wayne when I was the newish assistant editor at Down Beat under Dan Morgenstern. We printed it under his name because what Wayne had to say was, as I recall, very close to a non-stop monologue. The circumstances of this are perhaps interesting/amusing. I’d gone with Dan to the Plugged Nickel the night before the interview took place, in Sept. or Oct. ’68 I think, and approached Wayne between sets with the interview request at Dan’s urging — as I recall, Wayne had turned down the magazine before, and Dan probably thought that an approach by the new young kid might be disarming. But, no, Wayne politely said that he didn’t want to do an interview because he really had nothing to say…

At this point, Miles — knowing what my role probably was because I was there with Dan — said hoarsely from other side of the room, “Don’t tell him anything, Wayne.” Wayne took this in, looked at me (no doubt I seemed a bit stunned by what Miles had said, because I certainly was — brand-new on the job and nervous) and said (perhaps out of simple kindness but also I think because Miles had said “Don’t…” to Wayne the contrarian), “Come by the motel tomorrow afternoon, and we’ll do it.” When I got there, I’m sure I must have asked some questions, but essentially Wayne just picked up the mike of the tape recorder and spoke into it at length. With his agreement, we printed what he said, slightly edited if at all, not as an interview but as a piece by him, in the 12/20/68 issue, and he was paid accordingly.

1 Comment

  1. I understand Wayne’s feeling that there is “no end-all, be-all version” of his music. It’s obvious that his repertoire is constantly reinvented through performance. However, I’m curious about his compositional process. We know from Beethoven’s notebooks how many drafts and revisions he went through before premiering a new piece. I’m reminded of an interview I read with Stephen Sondheim, where he said that he can’t perform his songs without sheet music in front of him, because he remembers all the possible choices he could have made, but not the ones he finally settled upon. I’d like to know how Wayne decides a piece is ready for performance. Not an “end-all, be-all version,” but one that is a complete enough rendition of his intentions to present to an audience.

    Any thoughts? I suppose it could just be a matter of deadlines…

    Comment by Matt Rubin — March 9, 2009 @ 2:20 am

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