Wayne Shorter: Moto Grosso Feio
Moto Grosso Feio
Wayne Shorter (sax)
Moto Grosso Feio (One Way Records S21 17373)
Michelin Prell (drums).
Composed by Wayne Shorter.
Recorded: New York, April 3 or August 26, 1970
Rating: 79/100 (learn more)
As Monty Python's Flying Circus used to say, "… and now for something completely different." That was pretty close to Wayne Shorter's premise for this recording. It is not even clear whether he had a record contract when he asked some musicians to pick up instruments they could play, but were not known for. Chick Corea plays the marimba. Bassist Dave Holland switches to guitar. Ron Carter performs on bass and cello. John McLaughlin brandishes a 12-string acoustic guitar. The drummer is a mystery person. Shorter himself cheated and played saxophone. Recorded in 1970, it went unreleased until 1974, when these musicians had all become big names (except, of course, the mystery drummer).
There may have been good reason to wait. It is highly doubtful much of this music would have been listened to at all if put out by a bunch of Joe Schmoes. It is as free as free can be. The Amazon Forest is the setting. "Moto Grosso Feio" is based on a pleasant riff that serves as a theme of sorts, but it certainly is not developed in any way. There is no doubt you are listening to highly creative musicians during an excitingly volatile time in jazz's development. In fact, in a situation like this where they are not playing their main axes, they tend to over-create and blend together. Solos are mostly short. You have to separate the wheat from the chaff here. There are plenty of both, believe me. Still, the album is full of goodies and is an important installment in Shorter's artistic growth.
Incidentally, the mystery drummer is one Michelin Prell. She seems pretty good, too. But it remains a mystery just who the hell she was. The theories are as follows: She is Michelin Prell, a 19-year-old Belgian prodigy. She is Tony Williams, former child prodigy changing his name for contractual purposes. She is Micheline Pelzer who claims a Moto Grosso Feio credit on her website. Come to think of it, weren't the Pythons forever cross-dressing to play women? Maybe that explains Michelin Prell. Nudge, nudge, say no more.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky
Tags: 1970s jazz