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definition - Wayne Shorter

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Wayne Shorter

                   
Wayne Shorter

Convocation Hall, Toronto, Nov. 27, 1977. Photo courtesy of Jean-Luc Ourlin
Background information
Born (1933-08-25) August 25, 1933 (age 78)
Newark, New Jersey, United States
Genres Modal jazz, crossover jazz, post-bop, hard bop, jazz fusion, third stream
Occupations Saxophonist, composer
Instruments Saxophone
Years active 1958–present
Labels Blue Note, Columbia, Verve
Associated acts Art Blakey, Miles Davis, Weather Report, Joni Mitchell

Wayne Shorter (born August 25, 1933) is an American jazz saxophonist and composer.

He is generally acknowledged to be jazz's greatest living composer,[1] and many of his compositions have become standards. Shorter's output has earned worldwide recognition, critical praise and various commendations, including multiple Grammy Awards.[2]

Shorter first came to wide prominence in the late 1950s as a member of, and eventually primary composer for, Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. In the 1960s, he went on to join Miles Davis's Second Great Quintet, and from there he co-founded the jazz fusion band Weather Report. He has recorded over 20 albums as a bandleader.

Contents

  Biography

  Early life and career

Shorter was born in Newark, New Jersey, and attended Newark Arts High School[3] from which he graduated in 1952. He loved music, being encouraged by his father to take up the saxophone as a teenager (his brother Alan became a trumpeter). After graduating from New York University in 1956, Shorter spent two years in the U.S. Army, during which time he played briefly with Horace Silver. After his discharge from the army, he played with Maynard Ferguson. It was in his youth that Shorter was given the nickname '"Mr. Gone", which would later become an album title for Weather Report.[4]

In 1959, Shorter joined Art Blakey. He stayed with Blakey for five years, and eventually became musical director for his group.

  With Miles Davis (1964–1970)

When John Coltrane finally left Miles Davis' band in 1960 to pursue his own group (after previously trying to leave in 1959), Coltrane proposed Wayne Shorter as a replacement but Shorter was unavailable and Davis went with Sonny Stitt on tenor followed by a revolving door of Hank Mobley, George Coleman, and Sam Rivers. In 1964, Miles Davis persuaded Shorter to leave Blakey and join his quintet alongside Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams.

Miles's so-called Second Great Quintet (to distinguish it from the quintet with Coltrane) that included Hancock and Shorter has frequently been cited by musicians and critics as one of the most influential groups in the history of jazz, and Shorter's compositions are a primary reason. He composed extensively for Miles Davis (e.g. "Prince of Darkness", "E.S.P.", "Footprints", "Sanctuary", "Nefertiti", and many others); on some albums, he provided half of the compositions, typically hard-bop workouts with spaced-out long melody lines above the beat.

Herbie Hancock said of Shorter's tenure in the group, "The master writer to me, in that group, was Wayne Shorter. He still is a master. Wayne was one of the few people who brought music to Miles that didn't get changed."[citation needed] Davis said, "Wayne is a real composer. He writes scores, write the parts for everybody just as he wants them to sound... Wayne also brought in a kind of curiosity about working with musical rules. If they didn't work, then he broke them, but with musical sense; he understood that freedom in music was the ability to know the rules in order to bend them to your own satisfaction and taste."[5]

Shorter remained in Davis's band after the breakup of the quintet in 1968, playing on early jazz fusion recordings including In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew (both 1969). His last live dates and studio recordings with Davis were in 1970.

Until 1968, he played tenor saxophone exclusively. The final album on which he played tenor in the regular sequence of Davis albums was Filles de Kilimanjaro. In 1969, he played the soprano saxophone on the Davis album In a Silent Way and on his own Super Nova (recorded with then-current Davis sidemen Chick Corea and John McLaughlin). When performing live with Miles Davis, and on recordings from summer 1969 to early spring 1970, he played both soprano and tenor saxophones; by the early 1970s, however, he chiefly played soprano.

  Solo Blue Note recordings

Simultaneous with his time in the Miles Davis quintet, Shorter recorded several albums for Blue Note Records, featuring almost exclusively his own compositions, with a variety of line-ups, quartets and larger groups including Blue Note favourites such as Freddie Hubbard. His first Blue Note album (of nine in total) was Night Dreamer, recorded at Rudy Van Gelder's studio in 1964 with Lee Morgan, McCoy Tyner, Reggie Workman and Elvin Jones.

JuJu and Speak No Evil are well known recordings from this era. Shorter's compositions on these albums are notable for their use of[original research?]:

  • pentatonic melodies harmonised with pedal points and complex harmonic relationships;
  • structured solos that reflect the composition's melody as much as its harmony;
  • long rests as an integral part of the music, in contrast with other, more effusive, players of the time such as John Coltrane.

The later album The All Seeing Eye was a free-jazz workout with a larger group, while Adam's Apple of 1966 was back to carefully constructed melodies by Shorter leading a quartet. Then a sextet again in the following year for Schizophrenia with his Miles Davis band mates Hancock and Carter plus trombonist Curtis Fuller, alto saxophonist/flautist James Spaulding and strong rhythms by drummer Joe Chambers. These albums have recently been remastered by Rudy Van Gelder.

Shorter also recorded occasionally as a sideman (again, mainly for Blue Note) with Donald Byrd, McCoy Tyner, Grachan Moncur III, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, and bandmates Hancock and Williams.

  Weather Report (1971–1985)

  Shorter with Weather Report in Amsterdam, in 1980

Following the release of Odyssey of Iska in 1970, Shorter formed the fusion group Weather Report with Miles Davis veteran keyboardist Joe Zawinul. The other original members were bassist Miroslav Vitous, percussionist Airto Moreira, and drummer Alphonse Mouzon. After Vitous' departure in 1973, Shorter and Zawinul co-led the group until the band's break-up in late 1985. A variety of excellent musicians that would make up Weather Report alumni over the years (most notably the revolutionary bassist Jaco Pastorius) helped the band produce many high quality recordings in diverse styles through the years, with funk, bebop, Latin jazz, ethnic music, and futurism being the most prevalent denominators.

  Solo

Shorter also recorded critically acclaimed albums as a bandleader, notably Native Dancer, which featured his Miles Davis band-mate Herbie Hancock and Brazilian composer and vocalist Milton Nascimento. Shorter was to work with both of these musicians again later.

On the title track of Steely Dan's 1977 album Aja, he played a solo that moved the critic writing the album's liner notes to call it "suitable for framing". Concurrently, in the late 1970s and the early 1980s, he toured in the V.S.O.P. quintet. This group was a revival of the 1960s Miles Davis quintet, except that Freddie Hubbard filled the trumpet chair instead of Miles. Shorter appeared with the same former Davis bandmates on the Carlos Santana double LP The Swing of Delight, for which he also composed a number of pieces.

From 1977 through 2002, he appeared on ten Joni Mitchell studio albums, gaining him a wider audience.

  Shorter performing. Photo by Tom Beetz.

  Recent career

After leaving Weather Report, Shorter continued to record and lead groups in jazz fusion styles, including touring in 1988 with guitarist Carlos Santana, who appeared on This is This!, the last Weather Report disc. In 1989, he contributed to a hit on the rock charts, playing the sax solo on Don Henley's song "The End of the Innocence" and also produced the album Pilar by the Portuguese singer-songwriter Pilar Homem de Melo. He has also maintained an occasional working relationship with Herbie Hancock, including a tribute album recorded shortly after Davis's death with Hancock, Carter, Williams and Wallace Roney. He continued to appear on Joni Mitchell's records in the 1990s. Shorter's distinctive sound is also apparent in the soundtrack for the Harrison Ford film The Fugitive, released in 1993.

In 1995, Shorter released the album High Life, his first solo recording for seven years. It was also his debut as a leader for Verve Records. Shorter composed all the compositions on the album and co-produced it with the bassist Marcus Miller. High Life received the Grammy Award for best Contemporary Jazz Album in 1997.

Shorter worked with Hancock once again in 1997, on the much acclaimed and heralded album 1+1. The song "Aung San Suu Kyi" (named for the Burmese pro-democracy activist) won both Hancock and Shorter a Grammy Award.

In 2009, he was announced as one of the headline acts at the Gnaoua World Music Festival in Essaouira, Morocco.

  Quartet

  The Wayne Shorter Quartet at the Teatro degli Arcimboldi, Milan, 2010

Shorter formed his current band in 2000, the first permanent acoustic group under his leadership, a quartet with young musicians, pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Brian Blade, playing his own complex compositions, many of them reworkings of tunes from his substantial portfolio going back to the 1960s. Two albums of live recordings featuring this quartet have been released, Footprints Live! (2002) and Beyond the Sound Barrier (2005). The quartet has received great acclaim from fans and critics, especially for the strength of Shorter's tenor saxophone playing. The Shorter biography Footprints: The Life and Work of Wayne Shorter by journalist Michelle Mercer contains an insight into the working life of these musicians as well as insight into Shorter's life, thoughts and Buddhist beliefs.[6] Beyond the Sound Barrier received the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Jazz Album.

Shorter's 2003 album Alegría (his first studio album for ten years, since High Life) received the 2004 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Jazz Album; it features the quartet with a host of other musicians, including pianist Brad Mehldau, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and former Weather Report percussionist Alex Acuña. Shorter's compositions, some new, some reworked from his Miles Davis period, feature the complex Latin rhythms that Shorter specialised in during his Weather Report days.

  Personal life

Shorter married Teruka (Irene) Nakagami, in the 1960s; they met in 1961 and later had a child, Miyako.[7] Some of his compositions are copyrighted as "Miyako Music". Shorter dedicated some pieces to his daughter: "Miyako" and "Infant Eyes". The couple separated in 1964.[8]

Shorter met Ana Maria in 1964 and they were married in 1970.[8] In 1986, their daughter Iska died of a grand mal seizure at age 14.[1] Ana Maria and the couple's niece Dalila were both killed in 1996 on TWA Flight 800 while en route to see him in Italy. Dalila was also the daughter of the jazz vocalist Jon Lucien who was married to Shorter's sister.[8] Shorter married Carolina Dos Santos, a close friend of Ana Maria, in 1999. He is a Nichiren Buddhist and a member of Sōka Gakkai.[8]

  Discography

Title Year Label
Introducing Wayne Shorter 1959 Vee-Jay
Second Genesis 1960 Vee-Jay
Wayning Moments 1962 Vee-Jay
Night Dreamer 1964 Blue Note
JuJu 1964 Blue Note
Speak No Evil 1965 Blue Note
The Soothsayer 1965 Blue Note
Et Cetera 1965 Blue Note
The All Seeing Eye 1965 Blue Note
Adam's Apple 1966 Blue Note
Schizophrenia 1967 Blue Note
Super Nova 1969 Blue Note
Moto Grosso Feio 1970 Blue Note
Odyssey of Iska 1970 Blue Note
Native Dancer with Milton Nascimento 1974 Columbia
Atlantis 1985 Columbia
Phantom Navigator 1986 Columbia
Joy Ryder 1988 Columbia
Carlos Santana and Wayne Shorter - Live at the Montreux Jazz Festival 1988 with Carlos Santana 1988 Image Entertainment
High Life 1995 Verve
1 + 1 with Herbie Hancock 1997 Verve
Footprints Live! 2002 Verve
Alegría 2003 Verve
Beyond the Sound Barrier 2005 Verve

  Awards

  References

  External links

   
               

 

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