March 31, 2023

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Wayne Shorter: Legendary jazz saxophonist dies at 89

  • Written by Brandon Drinon
  • BBC News, Washington

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Wayne Shorter is credited with shaping much of 20th century jazz

Wayne Shorter, one of the greatest jazz pianists, has died in Los Angeles at the age of 89.

A well-known figure on the jazz circuit in the late 1950s, Shorter is credited with shaping much of 20th century jazz.

The 12-time Grammy Award winner has played alongside many of the greats, including Miles Davis, Carlos Santana, and Herbie Hancock.

The publicist confirmed that he died surrounded by his family on Thursday.

The tributes pouring in from social media shared a common sentiment: gone, but not forgotten.

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In the 1950s he played with the Jazz Messengers among the likes of Blakey, Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard, eventually becoming the group’s musical director.

But in 1964 he was swooped away after several attempts by jazz legend Miles Davis to become part of Davis’ first big quintet. There he played alongside the prolific pianist Hancock.

Shorter also released solo albums early in 1959, including Speak No Evil, Night Dreamer, and JuJu.

Recording solo albums gave him more creative freedom. He began fusing jazz with rock and Latin music, generating the sounds he admired in his next Weather Report repertoire.

Adding funk and R&B grooves, in 1977 Shorter’s Heavy Weather album went platinum and reached the Top 30 charts in the US. He also played with the Rolling Stones that year on their album Brides to Babylon.

He re-united with Davis—as well as Hubbard and Hancock—in The Second Great Quartet in the late 1970s and recorded the 1994 Grammy-winning album A Tribute to Miles, after Davis’ death.

Born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1933, Wayne Shorter first played the clarinet at the age of fifteen. Soon after he switched to tenor and soprano on saxophone and studied music at university before spending two years in the US Army.

Among the dozens of Grammy Awards he’s won, Shorter received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015.

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