Saxophonist Wayne Shorter.
Photograph by Frank Stewart/Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Born August 25, 1933, in Newark, NJ
Wayne Shorter, Miles Davis remembered, was “the idea person. The conceptualizer of a whole lot of musical ideas we did.” One of the most influential composers in jazz, Shorter gave birth to musical ideas that helped change the landscape of jazz in the 1960s and that remain just as current today. Born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1933, Shorter was by all accounts a quirky kid, but his originality on the tenor and soprano saxophones and as a composer served him well on the bandstand, where he came to prominence as musical director of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and, from 1964 to 1970, as a sideman in Davis’s second, freewheeling quintet. His compositions for that group—“E.S.P,” “Nefertiti,” and “Pinocchio,” among others—as well as for his own ensembles, offered a compelling alternative to the Tin Pan Alley standard and, at times, liberated musicians from their traditional ensemble roles. Like Davis, Shorter also experimented with the dense textures and rhythms of fusion with his group Weather Report, which he founded in 1970 with keyboardist Joe Zawinul. Today, as always, Shorter continues to write music that requires “courageous soul.”
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