Wayne Shorter: Wayne Shorter, fearless saxophonist who shaped modern jazz, dies at 89

Wayne Shorter, the enigmatic and fearless saxophonist who shaped the color and contour of modern jazz as one of its most admired composers, died Thursday in Los Angeles. He was 89 years old. His publicist, Alisse Kingsleyconfirmed his death.
Shorter had a sly, confident style on the tenor saxophone, immediately identifiable by his lackluster tone and elliptical sense of phrase. His sound was most brilliant on the soprano, an instrument on which he left an incalculable influence; he could be curious, teasing or elusive, but always with precise intonation and clarity of attack.
His career spanned more than half a century, largely inextricable from the complex evolution of jazz during this period. He emerged in the 1960s as tenor saxophonist and in-house composer for rhythmic editions of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and the Miles Davis Quintet, two of the most famous small groups in jazz history. He then helped launch the merger, along with Davis and as the frontman of Weather Report, which amassed a legion of fans. He also forged a connection to popular music in renowned collaborations with singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, guitarist Carlos Santana and the band Steely Dan, whose 1977 song “Aja” reached a dynamic climax with his hide-and-seek tenor solo.
Shorter wrote his share of compositions that became jazz standards, like “Footprints,” a freshly ethereal waltz, and “black nile“, a catchy anthem. Beyond his collection of melodies, he was revered for continually developing and refining a modern harmonic language. His compositions, uncluttered and insinuating, can convey elegant ambiguities of mood. They adhere to a internal logic even when they break the rules.His production recorded as a leader, especially during a feverishly productive streak on Blue note folders in the mid-1960s – when he made “Night Dreamer”, “JuJu”, “Speak No Evil” and several others, all post-bop classics – compares favorably to jazz’s best winning streaks.
Shorter has won 12 Grammy Awards, as well as a Lifetime Achievement Honor from the recording academy in 2015.


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