Newark's gift to jazz; a genius saxophone improvisor and composer. He was an oddball from the start, in the hard bop context of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, trying to start mid-sentence and work his way to both ends simultaneously. It led to his innovative tunes in Miles Davis' group and his own. From there he co-founded Weather Report, helping to homogenize fusion while resisting its inevitable rush to schlock. He can still play when he wants to - but does he?

Wayne Shorter

Stan Getz, Charlie Parker and John Coltrane: in some peoples' opinions, these are the most successful Jazz sax players up to date.., and indeed these people have changed the course of jazz and how it is played forever. Another one of those all time greats that is included with these people is Wayne Shorter a musical genius, both at improvising and composing.

Shorter was born in New Jersey 1933. And surprisingly enough music wasn’t his first great interest, with art and sculpturing taking priority in his life. It wasn’t till he was 16 that he began to take in interest after his grandmother had gave him a Clarinet for his birthday. Soon after he was having lessons from his schools band leader, and even sooner he was starting to expose himself to the players of that time. With the likes of Ellington., Monk, Getz and just about every other player he could go and see, Shorter was listening to the people which would shape his music and compositions.

From graduating from college, Shorter moved to New York, what many people call the Jazz Capital of the world, with such clubs as Birdland and the Blue Note Club Shorter was in the prime place to observe great players. While he was taking his university degree in music, Shorter was starting to play gigs around the area trying to make a name for himself. Sadly he was drafted into the army just as he was getting himself known, but he kept up his playing as much as possible with playing in the Washington DC Army Band and on a couple of occasions got to play with Horace Silver.

"I used to practice about 6 hours a day, play the first thing that came into my head, which was always harder than a regular exercise"

After a few years spent playing with Coltrane and Nat and Cannonball Adderley and many other players, Shorter eventually joined a band that would have the strongest front line that would last for many a year.

The Jazz Messengers

In 1959, Shorter joined Art Blakey's band, the line up was:

Unfortunately for the band, the music became like a broken record with no room for moving out into different ways, however it was widely know that this band was where Shorter gained his connection to the roots of Jazz which helped him to build a foundation and then and only then start to experiment and further his own technique.

Shortly after the demise of the Jazz Messengers, Shorter was asked by all members of Miles Davis quintet to join, With Coltrane out the way (he had just left the band) Shorter grabbed the opportunity. While Shorter was with Davis, he wrote Footprints, Nefertiti and ESP, which are now standards in the Jazz world and also continued to record albums with Davis till the late 60s.

Weather Report

in 1970 Shorter became friends with Joe Zawinul and Miroslav Vitous, and eventually these guys formed a band that would be at the center stage of jazz-fusion of that era. This was it.... for Shorter this was the time to finally bring his experimentation to the front line and show the world what he was truly capable of. With the chance to make tunes as long as they needed and the use of Dis-Chords, which gave him the change to truly express what, he wanted within his solo, to the point of minimalistic on some tunes.

This band had a lasting relationship and lasted till 1985.


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