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Wayne Shorter dead: Grammy-winning jazz legend was 89

New York Post logo: MainLogo New York Post 3/2/2023 Jane Herz

Legendary musician Wayne Shorter, co-founder of the American jazz fusion band Weather Report, died Thursday morning at the age of 89, his publicist confirmed to The Post.

Shorter passed away in a Los Angeles hospital, but his cause of death has not been revealed.

“Visionary composer, saxophonist, visual artist, devout Buddhist, devoted husband, father and grandfather Wayne Shorter has embarked on a new journey as part of his extraordinary life — departing the earth as we know it in search of an abundance of new challenges and creative possibilities,” his publicist shared in a statement to The Post.

“Always inquisitive and constantly exploring — ever the fearless and passionate innovator,” the announcement continued in part. “Wayne Shorter has left an indelible mark on the development of music for the last half-century.”

Jazz star Herbie Hancock praised his longtime friend in a statement.

“Wayne Shorter, my best friend, left us with courage in his heart, love and compassion for all, and a seeking spirit for the eternal future. He was ready for his rebirth,” Shorter said. “As it is with every human being, he is irreplaceable and was able to reach the pinnacle of excellence as a saxophonist, composer, orchestrator, and recently, composer of the masterful opera ‘…Iphigenia’. I miss being around him and his special Wayne-isms but I carry his spirit within my heart always.” 

Shorter was a 12-time Grammy winner on 23 nominations — his most recent win just last month for “Endangered Species” in the category of Best Improvised Jazz Solo. In 2015, he was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy.

Born on Aug. 25, 1933, in Newark, New Jersey, he attended Newark Arts High School, where he played the clarinet because it reminded him of a “spaceship,” according to his bio on UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music, where he was a professor. He later switched to playing the saxophone and graduated from New York University in 1956.

© Provided by New York Post Shorter was a 12-time Grammy winner, his most recent just this year. AFP via Getty Images © Provided by New York Post Legendary musician Wayne Shorter co-founded the American jazz fusion band Weather Report.AFP via Getty Images

Shorter was a dynamic saxophonist who originally began his career playing tenor, but he became a “lyrical voice” on the soprano saxophone when he played in the Weather Report, an iconic band that played from 1970 to 1986, according to Variety. He led the band along with keyboardist Joe Zawinul.

In the 1960s, he stood out as both a tenor saxophonist and in-house composer for two of the most recognized small jazz groups in history: Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and the Miles Davis Quintet. While in the Miles David Quintet, he composed hits such as “E.S.P.,” “Pinocchio,” “Nefertiti,” “Sanctuary” and “Footprints.”

“The six years I was with Miles, we never talked about music. We never had a rehearsal,” Shorter told NPR in 2013. “Jazz shouldn’t have any mandates. Jazz is not supposed to be something that’s required to sound like jazz. For me, the word ‘jazz’ means, ‘I dare you.’ The effort to break out of something is worth more than getting an A in syncopation.

“This music, it’s dealing with the unexpected,” he continued. “No one really knows how to deal with the unexpected. How do you rehearse the unknown?”

During his career, he helped to grow jazz fusion and was well known for work with Blue Note Records in the 1960s, where he made many albums including “Speak No Evil,” “Night Dreamer” and “JuJu.” He also wrote numerous compositions, such as “Footprints” and “Black Nile.”

© Provided by New York Post In the 1960s, Shorter was the in-house composer for two of the most recognized small jazz groups in history — Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and the Miles Davis Quintet. Getty Images © Provided by New York Post Shorter won many awards throughout his prolific career. Redferns

He collaborated with Joni Mitchell and the band Steely Dan, working together on the 1977 album “Aja,” where Shorter played a hide-and-seek tenor solo, according to the New York Times.

In 2000, he formed the Wayne Shorter Quartet, which was the “first permanent acoustic group under his name,” according to his website. The quartet released four albums of their live recordings: “Footprints Live,” “Beyond the Sound Barrier,” “Without a Net” and “Emanon.”

Throughout his lifetime, he released more than 200 compositions and received many awards, including a Kennedy Center Honor in 2018. He had five honorary doctorate degrees, one of which was from New York’s iconic Juilliard School, awarded in 2016. Shorter was also honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in 2013.

In 1985, his daughter, Iska, died due to an epileptic seizure, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and his second wife, Ana Maria, died in a 1996 plane crash, according to The AP.

Shorter is survived by his wife, Carolina, and a daughter, Miyako, from his first marriage to Teruka Nakagami, according to Variety.


New York Post

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