Wayne Shorter, esoteric jazz elder, dies aged 89
NEW YORK — Wayne Shorter, the famed saxophonist considered one of America’s greatest jazz composers and one of the genre’s leading risk-takers, died Thursday in Los Angeles. He was 89.
Shorter’s publicist Alisse Kingsley confirmed his death to AFP without giving the cause.
The enigmatic jazz elder performed with his legend Miles Davis and later became a leading bandleader on soprano and tenor saxophone, including with his group Weather Report.
He was one of the last living jazz greats to have his teeth cut during the genre’s heyday in the 1950s, when it was both the soundtrack in dance halls and gaining a foothold in intellectual circles.
Born on August 25, 1933 in Newark, New Jersey, Shorter showed an early interest in music and began playing the clarinet as a teenager.
Shortly thereafter he picked up the saxophone, which became his instrument of choice.
Shorter and his brother played bebop and called themselves “Mr Weird” and “Doc Strange” for their antics like wearing dark sunglasses in a dimly lit club.
“And we had wrinkled clothes because we thought wrinkled clothes were a better way to play bebop,” Shorter told The Atlantic in 2004.
“You had to be ragged to be real.”
He attended New York University, where he received his degree in music education in 1956, and spent two years in the army playing with jazz pianist Horace Silver.
“I knew that people start playing instruments by the age of five, so I thought I had a lot of catching up to do,” he told the Washington Post before receiving the Kennedy Center’s prestigious award, which celebrates the very best in American art will , in 2018.
“But once things started to move, opportunities came at a pace I hadn’t seen.”
– ‘Real Composer’ –
In 1964 Shorter left Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers – with whom he achieved international fame, toured for four years and became the band’s musical director – to join trumpeter Davis.
Davis’ Second Great Quintet included keyboardist Herbie Hancock, who became one of Shorter’s best friends and regular collaborators.
With this group, Shorter began to flex his compositional muscles and channel his innovative spirit within the traditional rules of jazz.
Davis often described the Second Grand Quintet’s ethos as “time, no change”—allowing free jazz to take full bow without restrictions.
The collaboration produced some of the most well-known jazz musicians of the 20th century, including the songs “ESP”, “Nefertiti” and “Footprints”.
“Wayne is a real composer” with “a sort of curiosity about working with musical rules,” Davis said in his autobiography.
“When they didn’t work, he broke them, but with musical sense; he understood that freedom in music was the ability to know the rules, to bend them to one’s satisfaction and taste.”
– ‘Eternity in composition’ –
In 1970, Shorter co-founded Weather Report, where he played a leading role in the development of jazz fusion, which combined the harmonies and improvisation of jazz with evolving forms of rock, funk and R&B.
Over the course of the band’s 16-year career, they adopted a new style of playing that dropped the standard format of soloists playing with accompaniment, instead encouraging all band members to improvise simultaneously.
Weather Report also showed interest in the music’s technological innovations, experimenting with electronic elements.
Shorter’s crossover collaborations with acts already famous in their own right such as Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan and Carlos Santana brought his talent to a wider audience.
His partnership with Mitchell was particularly poignant: Shorter worked on every album she released between 1977 and 2002.
“One of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had was listening to a conversation with Joni Mitchell and Wayne Shorter,” Hancock said of her work.
“Just to hear her talk my mouth was open. They get along perfectly and they make these jumps and jumps because they don’t have to explain anything.”
Mitchell also praised Shorter, saying his way of working was “the difference between genius and talent.”
A comic book lover and longtime Buddhist, in 2018 Shorter released “Emanon,” a triple-disc set in a 74-page fantasy graphic novel he co-wrote that chronicles the adventures of a “rogue philosopher” who… fight evil with truth.
“I try to express eternity in composition,” he had said more than a decade earlier in his 2007 biography.
The decorated shorter – he snagged most of the available lifetime achievement awards throughout his career, along with a Guggenheim Fellowship – toured well into his golden years, though chronic health issues eventually slowed his pace.
He recently lay down and composed an opera with bassist Esperanza Spalding, which premiered in 2021.
Failing health forced him to drop out of an SFJAZZ stint, and when he was struggling to pay medical bills, Hancock managed a series of all-star tribute shows to help defray expenses.
“For me, the definition of faith is having nothing to fear,” Shorter told The New York Times in 2018.
“I think that music opens portals and doors into unknown sectors that require courage.”
Source: Crypto News Deutsch