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Wayne Shorter

Though some will argue about whether Wayne Shorter's primary impact on jazz has been as a composer or as a saxophonist, hardly anyone will dispute his overall importance as one of jazz's leading figures over a long span of time. Though indebted to a great extent to John Coltrane, with whom he practiced in the mid-'50s while still an undergraduate, Shorter eventually developed his own more succinct manner on tenor sax, retaining the tough tone quality and intensity and, in later years, adding an element of funk. On soprano, Shorter is almost another player entirely, his lovely tone shining like a light beam, his sensibilities attuned more to lyrical thoughts, his choice of notes becoming more spare as his career unfolded. Shorter's influence as a player, stemming mainly from his achievements in the '60s and '70s, was tremendous upon the neo-bop brigade who emerged in the early '80s, most notably Branford Marsalis. As a composer, he is best known for carefully conceived, complex, long-limbed, endlessly winding tunes, many of which have become jazz standards yet have spawned few imitators.

Shorter started on the clarinet at 16 but switched to tenor sax before entering New York University in 1952. After graduating with a BME in 1956, he played with Horace Silver for a short time until he was drafted into the Army for two years. Once out of the service, he joined Maynard Ferguson's band, meeting Ferguson's pianist Joe Zawinul in the process. The following year (1959), Shorter joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, where he remained until 1963, eventually becoming the band's music director. During the Blakey period, Shorter also made his debut on records as a leader, cutting several albums for Chicago's Vee-Jay label. After a few prior attempts to hire him away from Blakey, Miles Davis finally convinced Shorter to join his quintet in September 1964, thus completing the lineup of a group whose biggest impact would leapfrog a generation into the '80s.

Staying with Miles until 1970, Shorter became the band's most prolific composer at times, contributing tunes like "E.S.P.," "Pinocchio," "Nefertiti," "Sanctuary," "Footprints," "Fall," and the signature description of Miles, "Prince of Darkness." While playing through Miles' transition from loose post-bop acoustic jazz into electronic jazz-rock, Shorter also took up the soprano in late 1968, an instrument that turned out to be more suited to riding above the new electronic timbres than the tenor. As a prolific solo artist for Blue Note during this period, Shorter expanded his palette from hard bop almost into the atonal avant-garde, with fascinating excursions into jazz-rock territory toward the turn of the decade.

In November 1970, Shorter teamed up with old cohort Joe Zawinul and Miroslav Vitous to form Weather Report, where after a fierce start, Shorter's playing grew mellower, pithier, more consciously melodic, and gradually more subservient to Zawinul's concepts. By now he was playing mostly on soprano, though the tenor would re-emerge more toward the end of WR's run. Shorter's solo ambitions were mostly on hold during the WR days, resulting in but one atypical solo album, Native Dancer, an attractive side trip into Brazilian-American tropicalismo in tandem with Milton Nascimento. Shorter also revisited the past in the late '70s by touring with Freddie Hubbard and ex-Miles sidemen Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams as V.S.O.P.

Shorter finally left Weather Report in 1985, but promptly went into a creative slump. Still committed to electronics and fusion, his recorded compositions from this point became more predictable and labored, saddled with leaden rhythm sections and overly complicated arrangements. After three routine Columbia albums during 1986-1988, and a tour with Santana, he lapsed into silence, finally emerging in 1992 with Wallace Roney and the V.S.O.P. rhythm section in the "A Tribute to Miles" band. In 1994, now on Verve, Shorter released High Life, a somewhat more engaging collaboration with keyboardist Rachel Z.

In concert, he has fielded an erratic series of bands, which could be incoherent one year (1995) and lean and fit the next (1996). He guested on the Rolling Stones' Bridges to Babylon in 1997, and on Herbie Hancock's Gershwin's World in 1998. In 2001, he was back with Hancock for Future 2 Future and on Marcus Miller's M². Footprints Live! was released in 2002 under his own name with a new band that included pianist Danílo Pérez, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Brian Blade, followed by Alegría in 2003 and Beyond the Sound Barrier in 2005. Given his long track record, Shorter's every record and appearance are still eagerly awaited by fans in the hope that he will thrill them again. Blue Note Records released Blue Note's Great Sessions: Wayne Shorter in 2006.

Though absent from recording, Shorter continued to tour regularly with the same quartet after 2005. They re-emerged on record again in February of 2013 with a live outing from their 2011 tour. Without a Net, his first recording for Blue Note in 43 years, was released in February of 2013, as a precursor to his 80th birthday.
full bio

Selected Discography


Track List: Without A Net

1. Orbits

2. Starry Night

3. S.S. Golden Mean

4. Plaza Real

5. Myrrh

6. Pegasus

7. Flying Down To Rio

8. Zero Gravity To The 10th Power

9. (The Notes) Unidentified Flying Objects


Track List: Alegria

1. Sacajawea

2. Serenata

3. Vendiendo Alegria

4. Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5

5. Angola (2003)

6. Interlude

7. She Moves Through The Fair

8. Orbits

9. 12th Century Carol

10. Capricorn II


Track List: Footprints Live!

1. Sanctuary (Live)

2. Masquelero (Live)

3. Valse Triste (Live)

4. Go (Live)

5. Aung San Suu Kyi (Live)

6. Footprints (Live)

7. Atlantis (Live)

8. JuJu (Live)


Track List: High Life

1. Children Of The Night

2. At The Fair

3. Maya

4. On the Milky Way Express

5. Pandora Awakened

6. Virgo Rising

7. High Life

8. Midnight in Carlotta's Hair

9. Black Swan (In Memory of Susan Portlynn Romeo)


Track List: Native Dancer

1. Ponta De Areia

2. Beauty And The Beast

3. Tarde

4. Miracle Of The Fishes

5. Diana

6. From The Lonely Afternoons

7. Ana Maria

8. Lilia

9. Joanna's Theme


Track List: Schizophrenia

1. Tom Thumb

2. Go

3. Schizophrenia

4. Kryptonite

5. Miyako

6. Playground


Track List: Adam's Apple

1. Adam's Apple

2. 502 Blues (Drinkin' And Drivin')

3. El Gaucho

4. Footprints

5. Teru

6. Chief Crazy Horse

7. The Collector


Track List: The All Seeing Eye

1. The All Seeing Eye

2. Genesis

3. Chaos

4. Face Of The Deep

5. Mephistopheles


Track List: Etcetera

1. Etcetera

2. Penelope

3. Toy Tune

4. Barracudas (General Assembly)

5. Indian Song


Track List: The Soothsayer

1. Lost

2. Angola

3. The Big Push

4. The Soothsayer

5. Lady Day

6. Valse Triste


Track List: Speak No Evil

1. Witch Hunt

2. Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum

3. Dance Cadaverous

4. Speak No Evil

5. Infant Eyes

6. Wild Flower

7. Dance Cadaverous (Alternate Take)


Track List: Night Dreamer (Bonus Tracks)

1. Night Dreamer

2. Oriental Folk Song

3. Virgo

4. Black Nile

5. Charcoal Blues

6. Armageddon

7. Virgo (Alternate Take)


Track List: Juju

1. Juju

2. Deluge

3. House Of Jade

4. Mahjong

5. Yes Or No

6. Twelve More Bars To Go

7. Juju (Alternate Take)

8. House Of Jade (Alternate Take)


Track List: Beyond The Sound Barrier

1. Smilin' Through

2. As Far As The Eye Can See

3. On Wings Of Song (Live)

4. Tinker Bell

5. Joy Ryder (Live)

6. Over Shadow Hill Way (Live)

7. Adventures Aboard The Golden Mean

8. Beyond The Sound Barrier


Track List: Essential Jazz Masters

8. Devil's Island


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Won't get far in jazz if you don't know about this Legend.
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wish there were some way to alas give this player his due
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Wayne Shorter is one of my all time fav Saxophonists & Jazz Composer! He is sadly & completely underrated!! ! ! ! !
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What is the story behind the song,
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A Sound All It's Own!
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The man has talent.
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As an ex-rocker studying jazz from '69-'73, Coltrane was the legend, but WS was the man who had learned the lessons of JC and was crafting the most advanced compositions around -- spacy, elegant, haunting, tonally adventurous, but in ways that always made sense. I loved Weather Report though WS was overshadowed too often by others in the group. Great playing aside, his Miles/Blue Note work remains a high water mark in jazz composition.
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I love it, great music from the ultra eternal Wayne Shorter mixed to my tastes free of charge!
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love wayne shorter on weather report's.mys t e r i o u s traveler, takes me to a place of peace and the smell of oil paint and turpentine and paint gliding on the canvas,fluid love......
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Hey, for all you lovers of this genius's music, there's a video on Miles' life that shows a live appearance with a boyish Wayne Shorter & Herbie Hancock. The music is sincere & fantastic. Jazz needs spokespeople . Keep speaking people.
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GO (live) rocks !!!!!!!
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Thank you Mr. Wayne Shorter for all your fantastic & memorable contribution s to Jazz & our lives. It takes incredible heart to stick to the guns you have unleashed on us musically. I would love to write your biography. Your mind would be a treat & people need to understand people like yourself with the mental design you've chosen as you lived.
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speak no evil
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ANGOLA rocks !!!!
Mr Shorter bats a thousand with this album ��
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DELUGE leaves no doubt about the lyrical genius that is WAYNE SHORTER !!!!! FLOW X
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FEE FI FO FUM !!! Wow :-)
Wayne rocks & the interplay between the whole band is just OUT OF THIS WORLD :-) Tony Williams OMG !!! X
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DEVIL'S ISLAND swings !!!
My old Latin teacher would tell me: I'm gonna send you to Devil's island. Now I know why :) thanks FR MURPHY X
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MAD CADAVEROUS is straight genius
Subtle yet, sooo powerful !!!! Is that Tony Williams on drums ? X
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Vibrant and consistently prolific. Forever one of the best!
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I go way back with Wayne..Weath e r Report was IT in the 70's.Mr.Shor t e r was ALWAYS on the edge,poppin' n e w styles structures.. m o v i n ' ON..always..
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We listened to him in the 60's and early 70's and boy can the man play!!!!! He was a giant influence on the music of that era. We love it.
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I love Wayne Shorter! He got me into listening to jazz.
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I think it's on infant eyes ( haven't heard it in a while) where he hits one of the greatest notes ever, right up there with miles' note on blue in green.
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Flawless !!!
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My Man ; I saw him with VSOP; What can I say , BADDDDDDDDDD D D D D D D D ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
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Wayne Shorter creates long melodic lines and has the facility to bend those lines in several directions at different times in his solos. Brilliant Improviser!
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My Uncle turned me on to a lot of classic jazz. And Wayne Shorter is one of the artist he hipped me to a while back. He often spoke of going to jazz clubs & after hours spots in NYC & seeing him as a member of the Jazz Messengers with Art Blakey. But his Speak No Evil CD was the one that really sticks out to me. With his band mates from Miles Davis' 60s Quartet + Freddie Hubbard. A true jazz treasure.
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You got that right, Noel!
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I ve been listening to Wayne since his days with Miles. He is a beautiful lyricist and composer whos edgy style and sound is unmistakeabl e as it is excotic. sensous and vibrant, Love Footprints, 81 and ALL his Blue Note stuff...both as a leader and sideman with Freddie Hubbard. It dosent get any better than that my friend(s)!
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Also as a student of jazz Wayne Shorter has been a direct influence on my style and the way I think about jazz. His compositions are like no others, Kind of like Monk's, You know them when you hear them, there's no mistake about it!
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I'm surprised he didn't mention Shorter's famous solo on the Steely Dan song Aja. That was when he first blew the minds of many rock fans in the 70's. I was kind of young but that and a few others like Herbie was what got me leaning more towards jazz and away from rock. When I finally got wind of Miles Quintet, I was blown away again by Wayne Shorter, and thus began my serious quest into all things Shorter.
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One of my favorites! Saw him perform with Herbie Hancock; just the two of them, piano and soprano sax. Great concert!
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Shorter is one of my favs. Saw him play with Blakey and Miles in LA. Phew!!
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This review doesn't do justice to the current quartet with patitucci, blades and perez. I heard them about 2 years ago and was deeply moved by their communicatio n . He also is writing for a woodwind group (imani winds) that was unlike anything else I have heard. Deeply original composer - no one has accurately described his approach to structure, harmony melody. I have to listen several times before I start to get it usually.
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Wayne shorter is a true jazz artist. His craft is timeless.
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the magic of ju ju. they all run from da magic. ask miles, archie shepp, magic johnson..... m a s t e r s at play with angels an a n g o knows too ,for i too have sat on logs that streatched the entire length of the room
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the master had many sons bfox866. we will never forget(911bf o x ) . . . k garrett aint what scares people the most , is what they dont understand. u no dat! mabye u just my 3rd cus. but u b ok, u heard an u know because of the master.
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Shorter has become one of my favorite jazz artists of all time. He is amazing!
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Behind Coltrane my second favorite...
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Jazz is so amazing. Truly THE most underated and forgotten genres of all time.
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Love his playing in all the various settings. Had the pleasure of seeing his quartet live New Years Eve @ the Blue Note along with Herbie's trio. His playing on Hancock's River, truly phenomenal.
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one of my favorite composers. love his soprano work especially.
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Mr. Shorter stands tall ~ regardless of who he worked /played with ...extremely fluid ~
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Shorter's compositions knock me out every time... he's one of the most important American composers since Ellington. He wrote all that super fly s**t for Miles... Nobody could f**k with Davis's group when Shorter was a member. I hope I get the chance to see him perform live soon.
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One of the all time greats, both as player and composer. I can't imagine jazz without Shorter; he's been as influential as Coltrane or Miles.
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Love the solo stuff, especially on soprano; love the WEATHER REPORT jams too - Great composer check out Nerertiti & Esp with Miles
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Wayne Shorter will be appearing in Concert at Town Hall, West 43rd Street,New York City on Wednesday, Febuary 9, 2011. Check it out.
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Infant Eyes is a great tune, no doubt. His work with Miles back in the 1960s set the standard for jazz, one that's never been equaled. IMHO, everything since then is a comment on what Miles and Wayne played, with Herbie, Ron Carter and Tony Williams.
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Excellent saxophonist, better composer
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This is my first time hearing him. I am a fan already. This sounds soooo romantic. I can see couples that are in love dancing or enjoying a meal together to this tune.
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