By midnight it is time for me to move away from writing and reading, after what has usually been an eight hour day of intellectual and literary work. I sit in front of the box and let its soporific effects move my brain-waves onto alpha and help induce a sleepy effect---usually by 1:00 of 1:30 a.m. And then it’s off to bed.

After making some toast and a hot drink I sat down and watched “A Journey Through American Music: Free Jazz to Future Jazz.”1 I won’t go into the many details of this short musical history, but will refer in this short prose-poem to a Wayne Shorter, a saxophone player who came to the jazz group known as Weather Report in the 1970s. Shorter had a reputation and a dominant role as an instrumentalist due to his solo work and his contributions to Miles Davis’ "second great quintet" during the 1960s. His choice not to follow the same approach with Weather Report led to some criticism of the group.

During his time with Weather Report, Shorter was noted for generally playing saxophone with an economical, "listening" style. Rather than continually taking the lead, he would generally add subtle harmonic, melodic and/or rhythmic complexity by responding to other member's improvisations. Playing both tenor and soprano saxophones, Shorter continued to develop the role of the latter instrument in jazz, taking his cue from previous work by Coltrane, among others. But it is not the biography of Shorter, which I could go into in much more detail, that has given rise to this prose-poem, nor his technical virtuosity. It is, rather, his ability to play his instrument as if the sound of the saxophone was the sound of himself. The capacity to integrate his personality, new sounds he heard as well as new forms, textures and moods into his highly individual sound, into his complete self, to make his self more complete in the process---this was what one could call ‘the sound of himself.’--Ron Price with thanks to 1ABC2 TV, 11:45-12:35 a.m., 25/6/’10-26/6/’10.

While you were making your name….
as one of the most important American
jazz musicians of your generation, while
you were becoming a household name…
amongst jazz fans around the world, and
winning honours and recognition, becoming
considered jazz's greatest living composer…
I got going with my life as a student-teacher
and a member of the Baha’i Faith,1…...Then
with Weather Report, 1971 to 1985,2……the
first years of my life in Australia we were both
beginning to record our own voice, at last, after
some grinding 1960s years. We both had some
grinding to come, eh, Wayne……as we enjoyed
the sound of our voice with you in Soka Gakkai
and me in the Baha’i Faith. Good luck old man!

1In 1959 Shorter joined Art Blakey. He stayed with Blakey for five years, and eventually became musical director for the group. Dizzy Gillespie joined the Baha’i Faith in 1968 when I was living on Baffin Island among the Inuit. Shorter is, himself, a Nichiren Buddhist and a member of Soka Gakkai since the 1970s.

Ron Price
26 June 2010