Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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SHORTER, Wayne

(b 25 Aug. '33, Newark NJ) Tenor and soprano saxophones; composer, leader. Served in US Army '56--8, worked with Horace Silver, to NYC '58, played in Maynard Ferguson band, joined Art Blakey '59--63 and was obviously a newcomer to watch: played in epochal Miles Davis quintet '64--70, took up soprano; formed Weather Report with Joe Zawinul '70--85, but carried on parallel career as a solo artist, composing almost all his own music as well as works recorded with Davis and Weather Report. He won the down beat poll on soprano for several years after '69 and has many fans who will listen to him in any context; also writes and paints. First recorded as a leader on Vee-Jay '59--62 (albums Second Genesis, Blues A La Carte, Wayning Moments); Wayne Shorter c'59 on GNP Presents (two LPs, one CD) may be a compilation of live recordings incl. Lee Morgan, Bobby Timmons, Davis's rhythm section and others. Then on Blue Note for albums with top sidemen, many from Davis's group: Night Dreamer, Juju, Speak No Evil '64; The Soothsayer, Etcetera, The All Seeing Eye '65, Adam's Apple '66, Schizophrenia '67; he moved away from pure jazz and showed a Latin infl. with Super Nova '69 featuring guitarists John McLaughlin and Sonny Sharrock, Miroslav Vitous, Chick Corea (playing vibes), Jack DeJohnette, Airto; Odyssey Of Iska '70 incl. vibes, three percussionists, bassists Ron Carter and Cecil McBee, Gene Bertoncini on guitar; Moto Grosso Feio '70 incl. McLaughlin, Carter, Dave Holland on bass, Corea playing marimba, Michelin Prell on drums. He was busy with Weather Report, then Native Dancer '74 on Columbia reached the top 200 albums, with Milton Nascimento, Airto, Herbie Hancock on variously recorded tracks. Atlantis '85 (aka Endangered Species) on CBS incl. six musicians plus vocal septet; was described as 'faceless' and a 'shaky' start to new solo career. He also recorded with Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan, Hancock's VSOP outfit. He had stayed too long with fusion and seemed to lose his way; the recordings slowed down. He made fine contributions on both tenor and soprano to Round Midnight soundtrack '86 and Power Of Three by Michel Petrucciani with Jim Hall, guested on one track of a Bobby McFerrin LP; critics waited to see what his new direction would be, one grousing about 'mewling synthesizers' '86. Live gigs in London '87 were judged superior to album Phantom Navigator '86 (probably overproduced with four keyboards and a clutter of drum machines); quintet incl. keyboardist Jim Beard (b 26 Aug. '60), Shorter's discovery Terri Lyne Carrington on drums plus bassist Carl James (b 20 Aug. '64), Marilyn Mazur (b 18 Jan. '55) on percussion. Joy Ryder '88 had more solos than he'd played in a decade, according to down beat. High Life '95 had co-arranger Rachel Z on keyboards, producer Marcus Miller on electric bass, Will Calhoun on rock drums; it depended upon delicacy of instrumental colour and harmonies from an ensemble of the LA Philharmonic, but was promoted at the London International Jazz Festival at earsplitting volume. 1+1 '97 on Verve was an opposite stripped-down extreme: Shorter on soprano in duo with Hancock's piano.