Thelonious Monk Institute @ USC Ensemble began the evening with great contemporary jazz from drummer James Alsanders, bassist Alan Hampton, pianist Arpad Olah, saxophonist Gilad Ronen, vibraphonist James Westfall, trumpeter Dontae Winslow and special guest trumpeter Terence Blanchard. The six students are part of a two-year scholarship jazz education program. All six of the young musicians were selected by some of the most affluent veterans in jazz today. Institute Chairman Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter and Artistic Director Terence Blanchard. This talented group of young men have studied and performed with many jazz greats such as trumpeter Clark Terry, bassist Charlie Haden, pianist Kenny Barron and drummer Lewis Nash. In Addition, they have performed far and wide with pianist Herbie Hancock and saxophonist Wayne Shorter.
However, the night clearly belonged to Wayne Shorter and his quartet as they graced the Bovard Auditorium with their artistic blends of contemporary jazz. Shorter began with a soft blend of complex improvisations that quickly impressed the audience into a thunderous applause of approval. Danilo Perez piano skills joined the creativity of bassist John Patitucci as he stroked and plucked the strings of his bass with authority. Drummer Brian Blade also, in tune interjected with a high level of energy as he too fused perfectly in sink with the quartet. As Shorter continued to work his magic with intricate phrasing as he would bend and stretching notes to shape them into his own unique styles and sounds of jazz.
Later in the evening Shorter and his quartet were joined on stage by the USC Thornton Jazz Orchestra which performed beautifully. They were amazing from beginning to end, inventing a larger sound of contemporary jazz with the masterful and skillful influences of Wayne Shorter and his quartet.