‘Children of the Light Trio’ set to play Hancher in commemorative performance

On March 30, the ‘Children of the Light Trio’ will play a special jazz concert at Hancher Auditorium. It will be an emotional show, as it partly commemorates and celebrates the life of Wayne Shorter, friend and mentor whom the trio used to play with before his passing.


Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY NETWORK

February 10, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Wayne Shorter accepts the award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album for Emanon by The Wayne Shorter Quartet at the GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, Calif. Mandatory

Grace Westergaard, Arts Reporter

An evening of extraordinary jazz music awaits all those who will attend the Children of the Light trio — previously known as the “Wayne Shorter Quartet” — performance on Thursday at Hancher Auditorium.

John Patitucci, Danilo Pérez, and Brian Blade of the renowned jazz band will grace the audience with a special performance commemorating and celebrating the life of their friend and mentor Wayne Shorter.

Patitucci, the bass player in the trio, said the four played together for over 23 years.

“I started playing with Wayne Shorter — I met him in 1996 — and I started working with him around 1987 on and off,” Patitucci said. “But then, for 20 years, starting around the year 2000, we started playing as a part of [Wayne’s] band.”

Patitucci said the trio’s lineup of gigs this year was initially to honor Shorter turning 90 years old. But Shorter died March 2, before what would have been his 90th birthday. Patitucci said the performance will now be more poignant.

“This will be a very emotional time of paying tribute, but there’s so much joy and gratitude because he was really an extraordinary person. He was a genius, but also he was very funny and very loving,” Patitucci said.

Aaron Greenwald, the University of Iowa Office of Performing Arts and Engagement director of programming and engagement, noted that this performance will be an opportunity for attendees to watch jazz and improvised music made at a high level.

He explained the show is a part of Club Hancher, meaning the performance will be more intimate and held in a room that only has around 200 seats. Greenwald described Shorter as a unique musical thinker.

“When he stopped playing regularly, these guys who had formed a deep bond with him wanted to continue that kind of expansive approach to thinking about music and exploration of his music,” Greenwald said. “I think that’s how the ensemble came to be, and I think that will have a kind of heavier emphasis, given his recent passing.”

RELATED: Alexa Tarantino Quartet to bring acclaimed jazz to Club Hancher

Curtis Taylor, a UI professor of jazz trumpet, said the performance will be a special one because the musicians involved are some of the best musicians in the world and have a long relationship together.

“As a musician myself, I can tell you that you can’t manufacture the synergy that happens through shared musical and lived experiences across time,” Taylor said. “That synergy will directly translate to an incredible experience for the listener and musicians.”

Greenwald said before watching the performance, viewers should think about jazz as an art form. He echoed Taylor’s point that Patitucci, Perez, and Blade work so well together because they spent so much time under the direction of  Shorter.

“They just bring a lot of the interplay between these artists, and the conversation that they’re having is not only a kind of high-level conversation, but it’s also a conversation that has evolved over decades,” Greenwald said.

Patitucci said a memory he recalls from his time with Shorter was when the late musician was asked what jazz means. In response, Shorter said, “I dare you.”

The bass player recalled that Shorter preached a sense of imagination and wonder when he played music and inspired the continual growth of musicians — even well-established ones.

“Getting in touch with the childlike sense of wonder and discovery and enchantment with the music; that’s something that Wayne never lost, and that’s inspiring for me,” Patitucci said. “What he wanted for us was to compose in real-time, which takes a lot of connection. The band is like a family. That spirit that he always brought. I think it changed our lives a lot.”