Wayne Shorter, pioneer of the jazz saxophone, has died at the age of 89

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Wayne Shorter, an influential jazz innovator whose lyrical, complex jazz compositions and groundbreaking saxophone playing resonated through more than half a century of American music, has died. He was 89.

Shorter died Thursday surrounded by his family in Los Angeles, said Alyssa Kingsley, a representative for the multiple Grammy winner. The cause of death is not known.

“Visionary composer, saxophonist, visual artist, devout Buddhist, devoted husband, father and grandfather Wayne Shorter has embarked on a new journey in his extraordinary life—leaving the Earth as we know it in search of new challenges and creativity. opportunities,” Kingsley said in a statement. He described him as a gentle spirit who was “always inquisitive and always exploring.”

Shorter, a tenor saxophonist, made his debut in 1959 and went on to become a founding member of two of jazz’s most significant groups: Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and the Miles Davis Quintet. Over the next eight decades, Shorter’s extensive collaborations would include co-founding the ’70s fusion band Weather Report, around 10 album appearances with Joni Mitchell, and further explorations with Carlos Santana and Steely Dan.

Many of Shorter’s textured and elliptical compositions—including “Speak No Evil,” “Black Nile,” “Footprints” and “Nefertiti”—became modern jazz standards and expanded jazz’s harmonic horizons during some of its most rapidly evolving eras.

Herbie Hancock once said of Shorter of Miles Davis’ second great quintet: “For me, the main writer in that group was Wayne Shorter. He is still a master. Wayne was one of the few people who brought Miles music that wasn’t changed.”

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Hancock praised Shorter for his musical background and for leaving a special mark on his life.

“Wayne Shorter, my best friend, left us with courage in his heart, love and compassion for all, and a spirit of searching for an eternal future,” Hancock said in a statement. “He was ready for his rebirth. Like any person, he is irreplaceable and was able to reach the pinnacle of perfection as a saxophonist, composer, orchestrator, and recently the composer of the masterful opera “…Iphigenia”. I miss being around him and his special Wayne-isms, but I will always carry his spirit in my heart.”

As a bandleader, Shorter has released more than 25 albums and won 12 Grammy Awards. In 2015, he won a Grammy for Lifetime Achievement. Last month, he won a Grammy for Best Improvised Jazz Solo for “Endangered Species” with Leo Genovese.

Shorter’s works have been performed by several popular symphony orchestras, including the Chicago, Detroit and Lyon Symphony Orchestras, as well as the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.

Shorter has composed more than 200 compositions during his career and was a 2018 Kennedy Center Honoree.

“Maestro Wayne Shorter was our hero, our guru and a great friend,” said Don Wass, president of Blue Note Records, the label on which he recorded several albums. “His music had a spirit that came from somewhere far, far away and made this world a much better place. Likewise, his warmth and wisdom enriched the lives of all who knew him. Fortunately, the work he left behind will stay with us forever. Our hearts go out to Carolina and all who loved him.”

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.

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