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Shorter, Wayne

Wayne Shorter



Saxophonist, composer



Wayne Shorter is considered one of modern jazz's most influential saxophonists and among its most original composers. Shorter, a tenor and soprano saxophonist, rose to prominence in the early 1960s when, as Mark Gilbert stated in Jazz Journal International, he introduced innovations to jazz which "were not piecemeal additions or alterations to mainstream tradition, but rather embodied a wholesale shift in perspective." Len Lyons and Don Perlo in Jazz Portraits: The Lives and Music of the Jazz Masters described Shorter's distinct contributions: "His compositions, characterized by unusual chord sequences and economical, impressionistic melodies portray images and sounds of his youth, foreign cultures, and films. [While] as a saxophonist, Shorter developed a flexible, vocalized articulation and tone."

Shorter's diverse musical career includes distinguished work as a freelance musician, in addition to being a member of the Jazz Messengers, the Miles Davis Quintet, and Weather Report. Josef Woodard wrote in Musician that Shorter's "trademark approach, in which emotional fury is bound by a cool, linear economy, can be heard in altered or diluted form everywhere from James Newton to Branford Marsalis to George Howard."

Born into a family of non-musicians, Shorter grew up in Newark, New Jersey, and displayed an early fascination with sound, duplicating tracks of movies. He did not begin studying music, however, until the relatively late age of sixteen, when he took up the clarinet. Prior to his music studies, Shorter aspired to be a painter and sculptor, an ambition fueled after he won an art contest at a young age.

However, the "human interaction" of music swayed him away from art, and he became very interested in the be-bop music he heard on the nightly New York City radio program, Make Believe Ballroom. "I loved the energy and life of the music," he told Scott Yanow in Down Beat. "I couldn't wait to go to New York to see Bop City, the Bandbox, the Latin bands and the Palladium and Birdland. It seemed like being part of this music would initiate a lot of what I'd like to get out of lifea good time! But a good time with deep roots and meaning." Shorter began studying the saxophone and progressed quickly as a musician, to the point that while still in high school, he was invited to sit in with saxophonist Sonny Stitt. He had established a reputation as a budding talent with a fresh and adventurous sound; local musicians referred to him as "that kid from Newark."


Shorter moved to New York City after high school and received a degree in music education from New York University, where he frustrated music teachers by his mixing of music composition styles. Shorter continued to play locally, establishing connections that would serve him well when he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1956. Shorter did gigs while he was in the Army, and was once asked to play at New York's Cafe Bohemia alongside such jazz greats as Oscar Pettiford, Art Blakey, Max Roach, and Jackie McLean. Shorter recalled to Yanow the importance of the event: "I was standing at the bar by the door, and Max Roach, whom I'd never met, came up to me and said, 'Hey, you're the kid from Newark. Come on up and play,' he said. I did what I could but wondered what kind of contribution I could be making with all of these giants up there. I started to leave the stand, but someone grabbed me by the back of the shirtI think it was Maxand he told me to play more. It was a great night for me."


Shorter got his first big break after the Army, when Art Blakey asked him to be musical director of his be-bop group, The Jazz Messengers. Under Blakey, Shorter was encouraged to develop his unusual compositions, and obtained much recording and concert experience. He also traveled around the world with the band, gaining experiences that would later figure into his appearance in the 1986 jazz film 'Round Midnight. Shorter played with the Miles Davis Quintet from 1964 to 1970, a period during which Lyons and Perlo stated he "reached maturity as a soloist." Throughout the 1960s, as Larry Kart reported in the Chicago Tribune, Shorter was considered "one of the most dangerous players to ever pick up a horna man whose solos were described by various critics as 'quietly maniacal' and 'clinically precise,' full of 'abrupt changes of mood' and 'wild satanic humor.'"

For the Record . . .

Born on August 25, 1933, in Newark, NJ; married, wife's name, Anna Maria. Education: New York University, B.A., 1956.


Worked in a sewing machine factory prior to entering college; served in U.S. Army, 1956-58; saxophonist and musical director, Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, 1959-63; saxophonist, Miles Davis Quintet, 1964-70; co-founded Weather Report with Joe Zawinul, 1970; saxophonist and co-leader, Weather Report, 1970-85; formed his own band in 1985; released High Life, 1994; released Footprints Live!, 2002; released Alegría, 2003.


Awards: Grammy Award, Best Jazz Fusion Performance, Vocal or Instrumental (with Weather Report) for 8:30, 1979; Best Instrumental Composition (with Herbie Hancock, Billy Higgins, and Ron Carter) for Call Street Blues, 1984; Down Beat, Best Soprano Sax, 1984, 1985; Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Individual or Group (with Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Tony Williams, and Wallace Roney) for A Tribute to Miles, 1994; Best Contemporary Jazz Performance for High Life, 1996; Best Instrumental Composition for Aung San Suu Kyi, 1997; Best Instrumental Jazz Solo for In Walked Wayne, 1999; Jazz Journalists Association Awards, Best Musician, Best Album, Combo of the Year, Tenor Saxophonist of the Year, 2003.


Addresses: Record company Verve Music Group, 1755 Broadway, 3rd Fl., New York, NY 10019, web-site: http://www.vervemusicgroup.com.


In 1970, Shorter and pianist Joe Zawinul founded Weather Report, a jazz/fusion group with which Shorter would play for the next fifteen years. A number of jazz commentators note that this period in Shorter's career saw much of his musical talent underutilized; Lyons and Perlo commented that "Shorter assumed an ensemble, texture-oriented role here." Shorter composed less with Weather Report and his previously active freelancing career diminished. In 1985, however, he broke away to form his own groupa move which delighted music enthusiasts who felt that Shorter's talents deserved more exposure. Shorter commented to Yanow about the decision to break away: "I just said to myself that if I don't do it now, I never will. I've decided that it's time for me to be more sociable as a musician and, with this new band, to get around more."


Some felt this move was misguided. In the late 1990s, All Music Guide writer Richard S. Ginell opined that after his departure from Weather Report, Shorter "promptly went into a creative slump," characterizing his recordings of the late 1980s and early 1990s as "predictable and labored, saddled with leaden rhythm sections and overly complicated arrangements."


Shorter released Alegría, his first all-acoustic studio recording as a leader since 1967, in 2003. Musicians accompanying Shorter on Alegría include Danilo Perez, John Patitucci, and Brian Blade, all respected musicians in their own careers.


Shorter is known as an elusive conversationalist when talking about his career and music. Regarding the former, he told Yanow: "Describing music is very difficult. Eric Gravitt used to say that if he could describe how he played drums, he wouldn't need to play them. Music really has to be experienced. I used to try to explain to people what be-bop sounded like without playing a record. It can't be done. Members of our audience have called our music fresh, exhilarating, happy, hopeful, I even heard the word youngmeaning enthusiastic."


A practicing Buddhist, Shorter is philosophical about the future direction of his music. Asked whether creativity is his primary guide, Shorter responded to Woodard: "The forces of the phantom navigator, to me, are a part of every human life. Whether you're aware of it or not. It's a dormant part, but a very essential entitythe center of the entity of whatever life is. Whether we're alive or dead, there's this navigator which is not devoid of ourselves, but is actually us."


Selected discography

As leader

Blues á la Carte, Affinity, 1959.

Introducing Wayne Shorter, Vee-Jay, 1959.

Second Genesis, Collectables, 1960.

Free Form, Koch, 1962.

Wayning Moments, Koch, 1962.

Night Dreamer, Toshiba, 1964.

Juju, Blue Note, 1964; reissued, 1984.

Speak No Evil, Blue Note, 1964.

The Soothsayer, Blue Note, 1965.

The Collector, Blue Note, 1965.

Etcetera, Blue Note, 1965; reissued, 1981.

The All Seeing Eye, Blue Note, 1965.

Adam's Apple, Blue Note, 1966; reissued, 1987.

Schizophrenia, Blue Note, 1968.

Supernova, Blue Note, 1970.

Moto Grosso Feio, Blue Note, 1970.

Odyssey of Iska, Blue Note, 1970.

Native Dancer, Columbia, 1974.

Atlantis, Columbia, 1986.

Phantom Navigator, Columbia, 1987.

Joy Ryder, Columbia, 1988.

High Life, Polygram, 1994.

Footprints Live!, Verve, 2002.

Alegría, Verve, 2003.


With The Jazz Messengers

Live Messengers, Blue Note, 1962.

Indestructible, Blue Note, 1964.

Free for All, Blue Note, 1964.

Roots & Herbs, Blue Note, 1969.


With Miles Davis

E.S.P., Columbia, 1965.

Nefertiti, Columbia, 1968.

In a Silent Way, Columbia, 1969.

Bitches Brew, Columbia, 1970.

Live at the Plugged Nickel, Columbia, 1982.


With Weather Report

Weather Report (1971), Sony, 1971.

I Sing the Body Electric, Columbia, 1972.

Live in Tokyo, Sony, 1972.

Sweetnighter, Columbia, 1973.

Mysterious Traveler, Columbia, 1974.

Tale Spinnin', Sony, 1975.

Black Market, Columbia, 1976.

Heavy Weather, Columbia, 1977.

Mr. Gone, Columbia, 1978.

8:30, Columbia, 1979.

Night Passage, Columbia, 1980.

Record, Columbia, 1982.

Weather Report (1982), Columbia, 1982.

Procession, Sony, 1983.

Domino Theory, Sony, 1983.

Sportin' Life, Columbia, 1984.

This is It!, Columbia, 1985.


Sources

Books

Lyons, Len, and Don Perlo, Jazz Portraits: The Lives and Music of the Jazz Masters, Morrow, 1989.


Periodicals

Billboard, June 8, 2002.

Chicago Tribune, November 17, 1985.

Daily Variety, August 8, 2003.

Down Beat, April 1986; August 2001; June 2002; July 2002; May 2003; August 2003; September 2003.

Financial Times, March 8, 2003.

Jazz Journal International, April 1986.

Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, October 28, 2003.

Musician, October 1987; September 1988.

Sarasota Herald Tribune (Tampa, FL), October 27, 2002.


Online

"Wayne Shorter," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (December 20, 2003).


Michael E. Mueller

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Shorter, Wayne

Wayne Shorter

Saxophonist, composer

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

Wayne Shorter is considered one of modern jazzs most influential saxophonists and among its most original composers. Shorter, a tenor and soprano saxophonist, rose to prominence in the early 1960s when, as Mark Gilbert stated in Jazz Journal International, he introduced innovations to jazz which were not piecemeal additions or alterations to mainstream tradition, but rather embodied a wholesale shift in perspective. Len Lyons and Don Perlo in Jazz Portraits: The Lives and Music of the Jazz Masters described Shorters distinct contributions: His compositions, characterized by unusual chord sequences and economical, impressionistic melodies portray images and sounds of his youth, foreign cultures, and films. [While] as a saxophonist, Shorter developed a flexible, vocalized articulation and tone.

Snorters diverse musical career includes distinguished work as a free-lance musician, in addition to being a member of the Jazz Messengers, the Miles Davis Quintet, and Weather Report. Josef Woodard wrote in Musician that Shorters trademark approach, in which emotional fury is bound by a cool, linear economy, can be heard in altered or diluted form everywhere from James Newton to Branford Marsalis to George Howard.

Born into a family of non-musicians, Shorter grew up in Newark, New Jersey, and displayed an early fascination with sound, duplicating tracks of movies. He did not begin studying music, however, until the relatively late age of sixteen, when he took up the clarinet. Prior to his music studies, Shorter aspired to be a painter and sculptor, an ambition fueled after he won an art contest at a young age.

However, the human interaction of music swayed him away from art, and he became very interested in the bebop music he heard on the nightly New York City radio program, Make Believe Ballroom. I loved the energy and life of the music, he told Scott Yanow in down beat. I couldnt wait to go to New York to see Bop City, the Bandbox, the Latin bands and the Palladium and Birdland. It seemed like being part of this music would initiate a lot of what Id like to get out of lifea good time! But a good time with deep roots and meaning. Shorter began studying the saxophone and progressed quickly as a musician, to the point that while still in high school, he was invited to sit in with saxophonist Sonny Stitt. He had established a reputation as a budding talent with a fresh and adventurous sound; local musicians referred to him as that kid from Newark.

Shorter moved to New York City after high school and received a degree in music education from New York University, where he frustrated music teachers by his mixing of music composition styles. Shorter continued

For the Record

Born August 25, 1933, in Newark, N.J.; wifes name, Anna Maria. Education: New York University, B.A., 1956.

Worked in a sewing machine factory prior to entering college; served in U.S. Army, 1956-58; saxophonist and musical director, Art Blakeys Jazz Messengers, 1959-63; saxophonist, Miles Davis Quintet, 1964-70; co-founded Weather Report with Joe Zawinul, 1970; saxophonist and co-leader, Weather Report, 1970-85; formed his own band in 1985. Appeared in the film Round Midnight.

Awards: Numerous awards from down beat, 1970-77; Grammy nominations with Weather Report, 1972, 1981, and 1982; Grammy Award with Weather Report, 1979; named Best Soprano Sax by down beat, 1984 and 1985; Grammy Award, 1987, for best jazz instrumental composition.

Addresses: Home Los Angeles, Calif. Record company Columbia Records, 51 West 52nd St., New York, N.Y. 10019.

to play locally, establishing connections that would serve him well when he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1956. Shorter did gigs while he was in the Army, and was once asked to play at New Yorks Cafe Bohemia alongside such jazz greats as Oscar Pettiford, Art Blakey, Max Roach, and Jackie McLean. Shorter recalled to Yanow the importance of the event: I was standing at the bar by the door, and Max Roach, whom Id never met, came up to me and said, Hey, youre the kid from Newark. Come on up and play, he said. I did what I could but wondered what kind of contribution I could be making with all of these giants up there. I started to leave the stand, but someone grabbed me by the back of the shirtI think it was Maxand he told me to play more. It was a great night for me.

Shorter got his first big break after the Army, when Art Blakey asked him to be musical director of his be-bop group, The Jazz Messengers. Under Blakey, Shorter was encouraged to develop his unusual compositions, and obtained much recording and concert experience. He also traveled around the world with the band, gaining experiences that would later figure into his appearance in the 1986 jazz film Round Midnight. Shorter played with the Miles Davis Quintet from 1964 to 1970, a period during which Lyons and Perlo stated he reached maturity as a soloist. Throughout the 1960s, as Larry Kart reported in the Chicago Tribune, Shorter was considered one of the most dangerous players to ever pick up a horna man whose solos were described by various critics as quietly maniacal and clinically precise, full of abrupt changes of mood and wild satanic humor.

In 1970, Shorter and pianist Joe Zawinul founded Weather Report, a jazz/fusion group with which Shorter would play for the next fifteen years. A number of jazz commentators note that this period in Shorters career saw much of his musical talent underutilized; Lyons and Perlo commented that Shorter assumed an ensemble, texture-oriented role here. Shorter composed less with Weather Report and his previously active freelancing career diminished. In 1985, however, he broke away to form his own groupa move which delighted music enthusiasts who felt that Shorters talents deserved more exposure. Shorter commented to Yanow about the decision to break away: I just said to myself that if I dont do it now, I never will. Ive decided that its time for me to be more sociable as a musician and, with this new band, to get around more.

Shorter is known as an elusive conversationalist when talking about his career and music. Regarding the former, he told Yanow: Describing music is very difficult. Eric Gravitt used to say that if he could describe how he played drums, he wouldnt need to play them. Music really has to be experienced. I used to try to explain to people what be-bop sounded like without playing a record. It cant be done. Members of our audience have called our music fresh, exhilarating, happy, hopeful, I even heard the word youngmeaning enthusiastic.

A practicing Buddhist, Shorter is philosophical about the future direction of his music. Asked whether creativity is his primary guide, Shorter responded to Woodard: The forces of the phantom navigator, to me, are a part of every human life. Whether youre aware of it or not. Its a dormant part, but a very essential entitythe center of the entity of whatever life is. Whether were alive or dead, theres this navigator which is not devoid of ourselves, but is actually us.

Selected discography

As Leader

Schizophrenia, Blue Note, 1968.

Supernova, Blue Note, 1970.

Native Dancer, Columbia, 1974.

Etcetera, Blue Note, 1981.

Juju, Blue Note, 1984.

Atlantis, Columbia, 1986.

Phantom Navigator, Columbia, 1987.

Adams Apple, Blue Note, 1987.

Joy Ryder, Columbia, 1988.

With The Jazz Messengers

Roots & Herbs, Blue Note.

Indestructible, Blue Note.

Free for All, Blue Note.

Live Messengers, Blue Note.

With Miles Davis

E.S.P., Columbia, 1965.

Nefertiti, Columbia, 1968.

In a Silent Way, Columbia, 1969.

Bitches Brew, Columbia, 1965.

Live at the Plugged Nickel, Columbia, 1982.

With Weather Report

I Sing The Body Electric,Columbia, 1972.

Mysterious Traveler, Columbia, 1974.

Black Market, Columbia, 1976.

Heavy Weather, Columbia, 1977.

8:30, Columbia, 1979.

Night Passage, Columbia, 1980.

Weather, Report, Columbia, 1982.

Sources

Books

Lyons, Len, and Don Perlo, Jazz Portraits: The Lives and Music of the Jazz Masters, Morrow, 1989.

Periodicals

Chicago Tribune, November 17, 1985.

down beat, April 1986.

Jazz Journal International, April 1986.

Musician, October 1987; September 1988.

Michael E. Mueller

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Shorter, Wayne

WAYNE SHORTER

Born: Newark, New Jersey, 25 August 1933

Genre: Jazz, Fusion

Best-selling album since 1990: Footprints Live! (2002)

Hit songs since 1990: "Aung San Suu Kyi"


Tenor and soprano saxophonist, composer, and bandleader Wayne Shorter is enjoying a December bloom. Long considered an aficionados' darling, contributing significantly but with an unusual degree of self-effacement to high-profile pop and rock projects as well as at least three of the most renown ensembles in jazz, as he attains "elder statesman" status he has emerged as the front man of his own quartet, supported by exciting, much younger virtuosos.

A musical prodigy whose older brother Alan (died 1988) was a jazz trumpeter with a more marginal career, Shorter began his professional life in 1956 with a stint in pianist Horace Silver's band, before being drafted into the army, which he served by playing in musical units stationed in New Jersey. Following discharge, Shorter joined trumpeter Maynard Ferguson's big band, where he met pianist Joe Zawinul, with whom he founded Weather Report, the foremost electric jazz-fusion ensemble, in 1970.

Prior to Weather Report, though, Shorter established himself as a memorable composer in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers (from 1959 to 1963), penning bluesy "hard-bop" themes that have earned status as standards in the mainstream jazz repertoire. Then he joined Miles Davis's innovative mid-1960s quintet with pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Tony Williams. During that band's transition from a relatively straight-ahead outfit to an iconoclastic, electrified ensemble, Shorter contributed pieces characterized by spare or fragmentary motifs, sometimes spinning through cycles or offset by silence.

During Davis's occasional down times, Shorter recorded a series of outstanding, mostly acoustic albums of his original compositions on the Blue Note label. His writing in that context investigates unusual harmonic relationships within common song formats. Throughout the 1960s Shorter also honed his saxophone sound, resulting in timbres lighter than those of John Coltrane or Sonny Rollins on tenor, and swooning and squealing on the soprano, which he first used in 1968. He won Down Beat magazine polls in the soprano saxophone category for thirteen consecutive years, beginning in 1969.

In Weather Report, Shorter's sax rode over Zawinul's multiple electric keyboards parts, aggressive trap drums, African-Caribbean-South American percussion, and the virtuosic electric bass of Jaco Pastorius. Even before he left the band in 1985 he pursued his own projects, collaborating with Brazilian singer Milton Nascimento on Native Dancer (1974), with the studio rock/pop duo Steely Dan on Aja (1976), with singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell, and with Latin-oriented rock guitarist Carlos Santana. Shorter and Santana co-led a band that toured internationally in the late 1980s and produced one album featuring them both.

Shorter shared a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition (other than Jazz) for the track "Call Sheet Blues" (1987), which he co-created for the film Round Midnight (1986), and in which he appeared. He released three albums during the late 1980s that intrigued musicians more than critics or the general public, as electric jazz had fallen out of favor. A Nirichen Buddhist since 1970, Shorter seemed unphased by the uncertain reception that his music met.

However, in the 1990s Shorter gained new momentum, winning Grammies for Best Instrumental Jazz Performance, Individual or Group in 1994 for his participation in A Tribute to Miles (1994); for Best Contemporary Jazz Performance, Instrumental in 1996 for High Life (1996), in which he played soprano sax against elaborate MIDI scores; for Best Instrumental Composition (Other Than Jazz) in 1997 for "Aung San Suu Kyi," dedicated to the Burmese human rights Nobel laureate, from a duet album (1+1, 1997) with Herbie Hancock; and for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Soloist in 1999 for "In Walked Wayne," on trombonist J. J. Johnson's album Heroes (1998).

In 2001 Shorter convened his first touring quartet ever, with pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Brian Blade, all born after 1959. His first in-concert album, Footprints Live! (2002), topped many critics' Top 10 lists, won a 2003 Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Album, and received rave reviews. Shorter's follow-up, Alegría (2003), was recorded in advance of the Footprints Live! tour. His first all-acoustic album since 1967, it features an orchestral array of percussion, brass, wood-winds, and strings as well as his young quartet. The program comprises a Celtic folk song, a piece by Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, and revisions of some 1960s compositions, as well as the inimitable tension of Shorter's alternately shy and aggressive saxophone sound.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

High Life (Verve, 1995); 1+1 (Verve, 1997); Footprints Live! (Verve, 2002); Alegría (Verve, 2003). With Various Artists: A Tribute to Miles (Qwest/Warner Bros., 1994); Herbie Hancock, Gershwin's World (Verve, 1998). Soundtracks: Round Midnight (Columbia, 1986); The Fugitive Soundtrack (Nonesuch, 1993); Glengarry Glen Ross: Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture (Elektra, 1992).

WEBSITE:

www.imnworld.com/shorter.html.

howard mandel

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