Some of Shorter's most celebrated compositions comprise this set of live performances, recorded at various European venues in 2001. His all-star quartet shows a strong kinship with the group led by Miles Davis during Shorter's tenure in the mid-'60s. Its omission of a second horn, however, comes at the price of making it harder to fully explore the potential of these pieces. Shorter's writing, like his playing, is filled with harmonic implications, and though the artists he leads are without question giants of contemporary jazz, their performances don't fully illuminate this aspect of the material. Each follows a pointillistic approach; Perez, for example, plays extremely fluent chords, yet he tends to restrict them to sharp articulations, with few of the washier applications that Herbie Hancock would bring in similar settings. With Shorter playing, as usual, in spare statements, the improvisations he creates with his colleagues feel sharp and staccato. Of course, the musicians are also telepathic in their interplay, which is ultimately the point among Davis alumni and their disciples. They're even playful; try to catch that "Rock-A-Bye Baby" quote from Shorter in the title track.
Footprints Live! Review
by Robert L. Doerschuk