Children of the Light Trio review – Wayne Shorter's rhythm section fly when solo

The Guardian: July 16, 2014

Ronnie Scott's, London – Pérez, Patitucci and Blade showed what an intelligent and original trio they are.

Just what the Wayne Shorter band would sound like without Wayne Shorter was the tantalising question for this one-night UK visit – the Children of the Light Trio being Shorter's revered rhythm section, consisting of pianist Danilo Pérez, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade. As with the absent sax giant's gigs, complex writing and quick-thinking group improv were inseparably mixed. But for extended episodes, this trio unfolded a rhythmically probing chamber recital, the melodies often revealing Pérez's broad-church pan-American approach and profound knowledge of folk and classical forms, as well as explicitly African-American traditions.

Before the trio emerged, the club's managing director, Simon Cooke, reminded the full house of recent jazz losses Horace Silver, Charlie Haden and long-time Evening Standard critic Jack Massarik – the rousing applause for Massarik particularly testifying to how much his directness and honesty were valued by London jazz fans. Pérez then settled to a quiet, delicately dissonant piano melody in chords, varied by fragmentary runs; Patitucci played almost-hooks on bass guitar that Pérez displaced with soft-touch classical raptures, as percussive folk-themes suggesting the pianist's Panamanian roots surfaced and submerged; before finally Patitucci swung into a blues solo while the ever-fascinating Blade mixed reassuring shuffles and disruptive cracks.

Themes segued without breaks – sometimes as Chick Corea-like dances, sometimes with a McCoy Tyneresque percussiveness – and an eloquently cinematic motif explored by Pérez and Patitucci was a showcase for the latter's pure-pitched, cello-like double-bass sound with the bow. Eventually, glimpses of Wayne Shorter themes flickered through increasingly dense and urgent collective improv at the climax of a set in which this intelligent and original trio had slowly revealed its character in frequently byzantine ways – but the proof lay in the rapt attention of the audience from the first note to the last.