Tenor Saxophone, Composer
"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."
Born August 25, 1933, Wayne Shorter did not pick up a musical instrument until he was sixteen when he started playing the clarinet to placate his father. A quick learner, his passion for music grew quickly. After earning a degree in music education from New York University in 1956 and a two year army stint, Shorter turned professional in 1959 with the Maynard Ferguson Orchestra, which also included at the time Joe Zawinul. At the same time he became close friends with John Coltrane and the two would often get together to woodshed and discuss music. In the fall of '59, Wayne made his breakthrough joining Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers with Lee Morgan. Here his unique sound and his startling original compositions found a major outlet.
In their Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Jazz, Brian Case and Stan Britt wrote of Shorter that, while with Blakey, "his tenor was a personal amalgam of Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane, a coarse-toned and unbelievably savage rip-saw, playing wierd asymmetrical lines. It was a little like being knocked down by a chess player. In 1964, he joined Miles Davis and his style changed. He wrote meticulously precise structures, often modal, that swivelled and snaked ... densely plaited unison statements that prowl like a wolfpack."
Wayne Shorter's music pumped new blood into the Miles Davis Quintet of the time with Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. And these unique innovators developed into a team that changed the sound of jazz.
Throughout the sixties, Wayne also recorded an impressive body of work under his own name for Blue Note. He also contributed his playing and compositions to countless other Blue Note sessions. His creative muse seemed boundless.
Wayne, Miles and Herbie Hancock would again change instrumental music in the late sixties with an open-ended music that would later be called fusion. Wayne and Joe Zawinul, both of whom can draw great drama and beauty from music using color, rhythm and leaping intervals, formed the most creative and innovative of fusion bands, Weather Report, which they co-led until 1985. Simultaneously in the seventies, Wayne, Herbie, Freddie Hubbard, Ron Carter and Tony Williams explored the directions laid down on their Blue Note recordings and with Miles Davis under the banner VSOP.
From the liner notes,
The Best of Wayne Shorter, Blue Note.
A selected discography of Wayne Shorter albums.
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