Legendary American jazz saxophonist and prolific song composer passes away aged 89

Legendary American jazz saxophonist and prolific song composer passes away aged 89

Image of jazz legend Wayne Shorter. Credit: Wikipedia - By Tom Beetz @ http://home.hetnet.nl/~tbeetz/index.html - Flickr, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3909887

Wayne Shorter, the acclaimed American jazz saxophonist who was responsible for composing some of the genre’s biggest hits passed away in Los Angeles aged 89.

Wayne Shorter, the legendary American jazz saxophonist who was also responsible for composing some of the genre’s most memorable songs passed away this Thursday, March 2. His death in Los Angeles was confirmed by Alisse Kingsley who said Shorter was 89, but gave no cause of death.

In the late 1950s, Wayne made his name performing on tenor sax with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. After leaving the drummer’s outfit he found himself working alongside another legend of jazz – Miles Davis. Playing in the trumpeter’s influential 1960s quintet, Shorter was accompanied by Herbie Hancock on piano, Tony Williams on drums, and Ron Carter on Bass guitar.

Davis hailed him as the band’s: “idea person, the conceptualiser of a whole lot of the musical ideas we did”, who also: “understood that freedom in music was the ability to know the rules in order to bend them”. During this golden period, Wayne wrote ‘E.S.P.’, and ‘Nefertiti, some of their most famous songs.

“The master writer to me, in that group, was Wayne Shorter. Wayne was one of the few people who brought music to Miles that didn’t get changed”, the iconic Herbie Hancock later said of the sax player.

In the 1960s, his unique style of playing created a whole new jazz sound as he eventually progressed into exploring what became known as rock fusion. Shorter created a string of hit albums in this decade with his own band. These included ‘Adam’s Apple’, featuring the song ‘Footprints’, one of the greatest jazz standards of all time, as well as ‘Juju’, and ‘Speak No Evil’.

Around the time Shorter started playing soprano sax he founded the legendary group, Weather Report in 1969. They went on to score a massive hit with ‘Heavy Weather’, one of the bestselling jazz records of all time. ‘Native Dancer’ was another huge hit, featuring Milton Nascimento. The song with the Brazilian singer mixed Brazilian rhythms with fuck, rock, and jazz.

Another four albums of only live recordings were created in 2000 when Wayne got together with drummer Brian Blade, bassist John Patitucci, and pianist Danilo Perez, to form his first acoustic group. He followed this in 2021 by teaming up with singer and bass player Esperanza Spalding, with whom he co-wrote the opera, ‘Iphigenia’, as reported by scmp.com.


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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com