Wayne Shorter

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  • Native Dancer
  • Adam's Apple (Rudy Van Gelder Edition)
  • Juju

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About Wayne Shorter

As a composer and improviser, saxophonist Wayne Shorter changed jazz history not through technical innovations, but with a singular lyric quality that looked beyond the genre’s parameters. His compositions, many immortalized through his work in the Miles Davis Quintet, are marked by melancholic beauty, unusual harmonies, and uneven phrase lengths—all qualities that upended jazz orthodoxy in the early 1960s. Born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1933, Shorter earned a degree in music education from New York University in 1956, followed by a two-year stint in the Army. After his discharge he became a fast-rising star on the New York scene, spending four years in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers until he was hired by Davis in 1964 and became a linchpin in the trumpeter’s second great quintet. Shorter’s brooding tunes were crucial vehicles for the ensemble’s meticulously pitched dynamic, and many became jazz standards, including “Footprints,” “Nefertiti,” and “Masqualero.” He signed with Blue Note the same year, recording 11 albums through 1970 that carved out a sound unique from the Davis work: more driving, but no less mercurial. He continued with Davis after the quintet disbanded, appearing on proto-fusion classics In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew, both from 1969. In 1971 he cofounded Weather Report, where he incorporated his interest in Brazilian music, R&B, and funk until its demise in 1985. Shorter worked sporadically in the years that followed, but a new acoustic quartet formed in 2000 introduced him to a new audience and reaffirmed his vision. He stopped performing live in 2018 due to health issues, but (Iphigenia), a new operatic work he created with singer/bassist Esperanza Spalding, premiered in 2021.

Newark, NJ, United States
August 25, 1933

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