Wayne Shorter, Influential Saxophone Player and Jazz Great, Died at 89

Photo via Wayne Shorter’s official Facebook

Wayne Shorter, the influential tenor saxophonist, composer, and jazz icon, has passed away. The death of the musician occurred today, Thursday, March 2, in a hospital in the Los Angeles area and was confirmed by Shorter’s publicist through The New York Times. She was 89.

Alisse Kingsley, the artist’s representative, broke the news while he was at the health center. At this time, there is no immediate information on the circumstances that led to the death of the celebrated jazz innovator.

His early days were influenced by family encouragement to learn an instrument, which resulted in his inclusion in the Nat Phipps Band after graduating from New York University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in music education.

Following his academic success, Shorter embarked on a two-year stint in the US Army, where he was paired with Horace Silver. After being discharged, the musician began playing with Maynard Ferguson.

In 1959, Shorter joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, embarked on international tours, and produced a series of albums. By 1964, he had found his way into Miles Davis’ Second Great Quartet, which included Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Tony Williams and the ensemble’s namesake.

In Miles: The Autobiography, Davis commented on his collaborator, saying, “Wayne also brought a kind of curiosity about working with musical rules. If they didn’t work, then he would break them, but with a musical sense; he understood that freedom in music was the ability to know the rules in order to bend them to your own satisfaction and liking”.

Shorter remained in Davis’s band after the quintet broke up in 1968, performing on early jazz fusion recordings as in a silent way and bitch beer. His last live dates and studio recordings with this iteration of the band occurred in 1970.

At the same time, while Shorter was involved in Davis’ group, he was also recording albums for Blue Note Records. The material was made up mostly of his own compositions and featured a variety of personnel from Freddie Hubbard to Lee Morgan and more.

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After dropping the 1970s Iska’s OdysseyShorter formed the fusion group Weather Report with Davis, Joe Zawinul and Miro Vitous. After Vitous left the group in ’73, Shorter and Zawinul took the reins and co-directed the group until their separation in ’85.

In the late ’70s and early ’80s, Shorter was touring with VSOP, a revival of the ’60s Davis quintet. The artist also appeared with his Davis bandmates on Carlos Santana’s double album, The swing of pleasurewhich saw the inclusion of his own original material.

Notably, from 1977 to 2002, Shorter appeared on 10 Joni Mitchell albums, earning her a wider range of listeners and fans. In addition, he delivered an extended solo on the title track of Steely Dan’s 1977 triumph, AHA.

Additionally, after leaving Weather Report in 1986, Shorter continued to mix with heavy hitters in the jazz fusion realm. He has earned honorary recognition, including the 2013 Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2017 Polar Music Award, the 2018 Kennedy Center Award, and 11 Grammy Awards, among other accolades.

In the latter part of Shorter’s life, he developed a strong connection to Nichiren Buddhism, forging a link between the spiritual teachings of the practice and his own approach to music.

Shorter will be remembered as one of the foremost jazz artists of the last half century, as well as an innovator and leader of the movement. He was preceded in death by his second wife, Ana María Patricio, and his daughter, Iska.

A post confirming the artist’s passing has been shared via Shorter’s social media profiles, see below.

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