Wayne Shorter is a living jazz legend. He has worked as a soloist, composer, ‘sideman’ and musician in major groups, despite the sustained personal hardships he has suffered.
Wayne Shorter was fascinated by film, the visual arts, drawing and painting from an early age, which led him to pursue a Fine Arts degree at the Newark College of Art. But music soon caught up with him. He heard Count Basie and Duke Ellington’s big bands on his parents’ radio and began to learn the clarinet. Bebop left a strong impression on him and he began to discover the work of Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie and Max Roach. He was spotted when playing the tenor saxophone and given the nickname of "Newark flash". He then studied harmony and orchestration at university, earning a diploma in 1956. He was already being compared to Stan Getz. In 1958, he began to rub shoulders with the big names of jazz like Lester Young, Freddie Hubbard and John Coltrane. He played with Sonny Rollins and Max Roach and then began working with Sonny Rollins. He also befriended Joe Zawinul, both men suffered from alcohol addiction. In 1959, he became part of Art Blakey’s group The Jazz Messengers which embodied the hard bop of the 1960s. He was initially very shy but gradually matured as a composer and improviser, partly thanks to the advice and guidance of Art Blakey. Wayne Shorter toured widely with The Jazz Messengers. During this period, in 1961, he married Irene Nakagami who was of Japanese origin. He also met Herbie Hancock and forged a lifelong friendship.
In 1964, Miles Davis, who was struggling to replace John Coltrane in his quintet, called on Wayne Shorter. Shorter joined the quintet to play with Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Tony Williams and, of course, Miles himself. His skill as a composer and improviser meant that he soon found himself at the centre of the group. 1966 however brought new struggles as he divorced and lost his father. These events worsened his alcoholism and affected the quintet who also slipped into alcoholism. Miles Davis began to let certain members go. Wayne Shorter was however the last to leave, allowing him to be part of Davis’ new jazz-fusion direction, on the albums In A Silent Way and Bitches brew (1969). He played soprano saxophone during this period. In 1967, he married Ana Maria Patricio. The couple had a baby girl who sadly was disabled by a medical error. Wayne Shorter then began to develop his solo career. He was also a much sought after sideman, requested by the likes of Lee Morgan and Mc Coy Tyner. In 1970, he created the Weather Report group, with Joe Zawinul and bassist Miroslav Vitous, which played on electric instruments and synthesizers and was part of the jazz-fusion movement. Joe Zawinul led the group. The group performed successfully for fifteen years. But after the death of his daughter Iska, in 1985, Wayne Shorter retreated, focusing solely on his solo career. He did however participate in projects such as VSOP (Very Special Onetime Performance), a group founded by Herbie Hancock and former Miles Davis Quintet musicians. He also played with Carlos Santana. However in 1996, tragedy struck once more when his wife and niece disappeared in an air crash. Herbie Hancock supported him completely and they recorded a duet album together: 1 + 1. The 2000s saw the birth of a new band, the Wayne Shorter Quartet with Brian Blade as drummer, John Patitucci on bass and Danilo Perez on piano. They have released a number of albums including Footprints live (2002), and Without a Net (2013).
Six Landmark Dates in the Life of Wayne Shorter :
• 1959 : Made his debut Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers
• 1964 : Started playing with the Miles Davis Quintet
• 1966 : Was hit by divorce and his father's death
• 1970 : Was founding member of the Weather Report group
• 1996 : Death of his second wife and niece
• 2000 : Founded the Wayne Shorter Quartet
Six Key Recordings by Wayne Shorter
• 1960 The Big Beat, avec les Jazz Messengers
• 1964 Speak no evil
• 1969 In a Silent Way, with the Miles Davis Quintet
•1977 Heavy Weather, with Weather Report
• 1977 : Live under the sky, with the VSOP
• 2002 : Footprints live, with the Wayne Shorter Quartet
Official Website : http://www\.wayneshorter\.com/