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Randy DuBurke will always remember that auspicious moment when the news arrived. It was St. Nick’s Day in Switzerland, where the Brooklyn-raised illustrator resides. After DuBurke had finished making holiday magic for his kids, an email brought an enchanted possibility for him: Wayne Shorter admired his books, and wanted to collaborate on a graphic novel and recording project.
“I said, ‘The Wayne Shorter?’” DuBurke says. “I was sitting in my studio looking at my CD collection, and my eyes lit on ‘Speak No Evil’ and 'Beyond the Sound Barrier.' At that point I knew I had to be a part of this!”
At the suggestion of Blue Note president Don Was, Shorter had checked out DuBurke’s well-respected illustrations in graphic novels on Malcolm X and Deadwood Dick. “I could sort of project myself into Randy’s general state of mind from childhood,” Shorter says. “I could see it in his drawings. He has those ‘I wish’ lines in his work; he’s aiming for how he wants the world to be.” Shorter is a serious comic book aficionado, and has long identified with the genre’s heroes and alternate realms—he even created his own comic book of blue ink drawings, Other Worlds, at age 15.
To launch his collaboration with DuBurke, Shorter had four studio tracks: “Pegasus,” “Lotus,” “The Three Marias,” and “Prometheus Unbound.” Shorter’s long-running quartet with pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Brian Blade recorded this music with the 34-piece Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in February 2013, the day after a combined Carnegie Hall performance.