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The Quartet

by Yung-hsiang Kao

Dream teams of any sort are temporary creations made to fulfill a fan’s fantasies, and musical ones do not get any more fantastic than The Quartet. Pianist Herbie Hancock, saxophonist Wayne Shorter, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Jack DeJohnette are giants of the jazz world who are about to tour Japan and perform together for the first and perhaps last time.

“It’s the kind of band I dream about playing with!” DeJohnette has said.

The tour is dedicated to the late Miles Davis, whom all four played with. Hancock, Shorter and Carter were in the trumpeter’s highly touted Miles Davis Quintet of the 1960s, before Davis entered his fusion phase, and they, along with drummer Tony Williams, were also mainstays in Davis’ second stab at a quintet. On albums such as “Miles Smiles,” Shorter composed half the songs, often eschewing a main theme and instead jumping straight into solo passages.

Shorter, at 74, is the elder statesman of The Quartet. Expect him to improvise without hesitation, blending silence into his passages and bending the rules while keeping the musical shape. He will likely take the lead here while Hancock will give the music an edge with dissonant chords in the midst of melodic phrases. DeJohnette is known for holding bands together with his precision and subtle accents and recorded with Davis after the quintet disbanded, playing drums on Davis’ seminal, fusion-heavy album “Bitches Brew.”

Though all four have separately toured Japan in the last two years — and Hancock was musical director of the Tokyo Jazz Festival for four years from its inception in 2002 — arguably the most familiar face to audiences in Japan is Carter’s, whose image this summer adorned the outside of trains on Tokyo’s Yamanote Line in advertisements for Tully’s Coffee. A master with the acoustic bass, Carter will get many chances to improvise as if he’s playing lead — with or without a caffeine injection.

The Quartet play: Oct. 8 at ACROS Fukuoka Symphony Hall (soldout); Oct. 11, 7 p.m., Osaka Kosei Nenkin Kaikan (¥8,500-¥12,500); Oct. 14, 3 p.m., Pacifico Yokohama (¥8,000-11,000); Oct. 15, 7 p.m., Tokyo International Forum (¥8,000-¥11,000; Oct. 19 soldout); Oct. 17, Sapporo Concert Hall Kitara (soldout). For details, call (03) 5474-5944.