Wayne Shorter


A member of Miles Davis' "Second Great Quintet" and a founder of Weather Report with keyboard player Joe Zawinul, Wayne Shorter has deservedly been showered with awards and honours

Shorter, Wayne (b. 25th August 1933, Newark, New Jersey). Originally interested in fine arts in which he majored in High School (he still paints) took up clarinet at 16 and tenor sax shortly afterwards; degree in music education at New York University 1956-8.

July-August 1959 joined trumpeter Maynard Ferguson’s big band (in which Joe Zawinul was pianist); joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers September 1959, also acted as music director in what is generally regarded as the finest edition of the band, sharing frontline with trumpeter Lee Morgan; all Blakey albums during Shorter’s time with the group include a significant number of his originals as he refined his compositional skills, highlights include Meet You At The Jazz Corner of the World (1960), A Night in Tunisia (1960), Mosaic (1961), Roots and Herbs (1961), The Freedom Rider (1961), The Witch Doctor (1961) that are considered the quintessential Blue Note sound: sophisticated structures and rhythms, strong melodies, and exceptional playing.


September 1964 joined Miles Davis in what would become known as “The Second Great Quintet” and once again Shorter’s compositions shaped the musical destiny of the group, albums include E.S.P. (1965), Miles Smiles (1967), Sorcerer (1967), Nefertiti (1968), Miles in the Sky (1968), Filles de Kilamanjaro (1968); during his period with Davis, Shorter recorded eight highly regarded Blue Note albums under his own name, featuring his own compositions, some of which have become jazz standards, albums include Night Dreamer (1964), Juju (1964), Speak No Evil (1965), The Soothsayer (1965), Et Cetera (1965), The All Seeing Eye (1965), Adam’s Apple (1966), Schizophrenia (1967).

In 1970 forms the group Weather Report with keyboard player Joe Zawinul, but was less prolific as a composer during this period; band’s stylistic outlook was extremely broad, perhaps the most inclusive in all of jazz; their range extended from World music to bebop, big band to chamber music, impressionism to free jazz, from collective improvisation to tightly written structures, from modal vamps to elaborately conceived harmonic progressions, from structures with no apparent meter to straight-ahead swing; between Shorter and Zawinul, they created a body of work that outside Duke Ellington numbers among the most diverse and imaginative in jazz; selected albums include: I Sing the Body Electric (1972), Sweetnighter (1973), Mysterious Traveller (1974), Tale Spinnin’ (1975), Black Market (1976), Heavy Weather (1977) reached 30 on the Billboard album chart, and quickly went Gold (sales of 500,000), 8:30 (1979), Night Passage (1980), Procession (1983); in all Weather Report released 15 albums during their fifteen year existence finally winding-up in 1986.

Between late 1970s and early 1980s, Shorter toured and recorded as a member of V.S.O.P. under the auspices of Herbie Hancock which reunited the “Second Great Miles Davis Quintet” with Freddie Hubbard in Miles Davis’ stead, Herbie Hancock V.S.O.P. (1976), V.S.O.P - The Quintet (1977), Herbie Hancock V.S.O.P. Live Under the Sky (1979); between 1975 and 1987, Shorter recorded four albums for Columbia which are generally more impressionistic and open to Latin flavours than his work with Weather Report: Native Dancer (1975), Atlantis (1985), Phantom Navigator (1986) and Joy Ryder (1987); appeared in the film Round Midnight (1986); toured with Carlos Santana in 1988, Carlos Santana & Wayne Shorter Live at the 1988 Montreux Jazz Festival (1988); 1977-2002 Shorter appeared on 10 Joni Mitchell albums; 1977 appeared on “Aja” on the Steely Dan album Aja (1977).


1995 debut as a leader on the Verve label with High Life, which won a Grammy Award; 1997 collaborates with Herbie Hancock on 1+1 (1997) which also wins Grammy award; 2002 forms quintet with Danilo Perez (p), John Patitucci (b), Brian Blade (d) Footprints Live (2002); Alegría (2003) with Alex Acuna (perc) and others added, won Grammy award; Beyond the Sound Barrier (a collection of live recordings 2002-2004) released 2005 and Grammy award winner; 2013 signs with the Blue Note label and releases Without a Net (2013); Shorter’s group is generally regarded as the finest acoustic jazz ensemble during this period; from 1969 won the Downbeat award on soprano saxophone for 13 unbroken years.

In 1998 Shorter was inducted by the National Endowment for the Arts as a Jazz Master; in 2013 Shorter received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz; 2014 award a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award; 2016 awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship; 2017, joint winner of the Polar Music Prize; in all Shorter has been awarded 10 Grammies.

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