Wayne Shorter: Legendary jazz saxophonist dies at 89

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Music legend Wayne ShorterImage source, Getty Images

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Wayne Shorter is credited with shaping much of 20th century jazz music

By Brandon Drenon

BBC News, Washington

One of the greatest jazz saxophonists, Wayne Shorter, has died in Los Angeles at the age of 89.

A well-known figure on the jazz circuit in the late 1950s, Shorter is credited with shaping much of 20th Century jazz music.

The 12-time Grammy award winner played alongside several greats, including Miles Davis, Carlos Santana and Herbie Hancock.

He died surrounded by his family on Thursday, his publicist confirmed.

Tributes that poured in from social media shared a common sentiment: gone, but not forgotten.

Skip twitter post by Herbie Hancock

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. As it is with every human being, he is irreplaceable . . . pic.twitter.com/MRVfXhaz8T

— Herbie Hancock (@herbiehancock) March 2, 2023

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In the 1950s, he played with the Jazz Messengers among the likes of Blakey, Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard, eventually becoming the group’s musical director.

But in 1964 he was swooped away after several attempts by jazz legend Miles Davis to become part of Davis’ First Great Quintet. It was there he played alongside the prolific pianist Hancock.

Shorter had also released solo albums as early as 1959, including the acclaimed Speak No Evil, Night Dreamer and JuJu.

Recording solo albums gave him more creative freedom. He began fusing jazz with rock and Latin music, birthing the sounds admired in his next musical group Weather Report.

Adding funk and R&B grooves, in 1977 Shorter’s Heavy Weather album went platinum and reached the US top 30 charts. He also played with the Rolling Stones that year on their album Brides to Babylon.

He re-united with Davis – as well as Hubbard and Hancock – in the Second Great Quartet in the late 70s and recorded the 1994 Grammy-winning album A Tribute to Miles, following Davis’ death.

Wayne Shorter was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1933, and initially played the clarinet at age 15. Soon after he moved on to tenor and soprano on saxophone and studied music at university before spending two years in the US Army.

Among the dozen Grammy awards he won, Shorter received a Lifetime Achievement award in 2015.

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