Sound Prints takes their inspiration from the music of Shorter – the band's name is a nod to his classic "Footprints" – however the quintet’s focus is on new original compositions by Lovano and Douglas, as well as new Shorter compositions in direct collaboration with the composer himself. The band is fueled by a desire to push the boundaries of their music as far as they can stretch, similar to the expansive role Shorter has played in jazz since his debut with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers in 1959.
In the album’s liner notes Shorter exclaims: "Onward! Dave Douglas, Joe Lovano, Lawrence Fields, Linda Oh and Joey Baron! It’s not often when a combination of musicians such as the aforementioned elect to immerse themselves in an explorative adventure without hesitation or reservation. May they continue forging ahead on the trail less trodden. Onward!”
"The defining trait of Sound Prints," wrote Nate Chinen in The New York Times in a 2012 review of their engagement at the Village Vanguard, "is the tangled crosstalk of its front line: an urbane, on-the-fly counterpoint brimming with crooked urgency, like a choice bit of dialogue in a David Mamet play."
In the summer of 2011 Sound Prints opened for Shorter's Quartet on a European tour. They weren't performing any of his tunes yet but time spent with the legend and his band made a big impact on the group. When Sound Prints appeared on the bill with Shorter at New York's Town Hall in June 2013 he presented them with the new scores of "Destination Unknown" and "To Sail Beyond The Sunset," two pieces commissioned by the Monterey Jazz Festival. "The music came handwritten - very detailed, very precise," says Douglas.
Sound Prints' debut album was recorded live at the Monterey Jazz Festival on September 21, 2013. Lovano and Douglas contributed two songs apiece to the set and the Shorter compositions were given their public debut that day. "The recordings are the very first performances of the newly commissioned tunes," said Douglas. "We all were at a heightened state of paying attention. Shorter took a lot of risks exploring elements of change. It was such a high to play it for him." "The music moves from today into tomorrow," adds Lovano. "Wayne told us the melody was just a suggestion – tell your own story with it."