Jazz
5:00 am
Thu August 1, 2013

August Feature: Wayne Shorter

American jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter in 2006.
Credit Tom Beetz / Wikimedia Commons

August 25th marks the 80th birthday of jazz giant Wayne Shorter and throughout the month Night Train celebrates with music from his long and illustrious career as one of the finest composers and saxophonists in jazz.

‪Shorter grew up in Newark, New Jersey, and inspired by a Jazz at the Philharmonic show, began to play saxophone as a teenager. His first break came a few years after his discharge from the Army and brief stints with Horace Silver and Maynard Ferguson, when he was invited to join Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. He was with the famed  finishing school of jazz for five years and became the group's musical director. He also released his first solo album during this time on the Vee Jay label. 

Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers – “Night in Tunisia”:

Shorter's next stop, in 1964, was with the "Second Great Quintet" of Miles Davis alongside Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. There he made his mark not only as a player but as the composer of a number of Miles' classics, including "Prince of Darkness", "E.S.P.", "Footprints", "Sanctuary" and "Nefertiti." It was also during this time that Shorter added the soprano sax to his repertoire and began doing solo projects for the Blue Note label. His first, Night Dreamer, came out in 1964 and eight more followed.  He also appeared as a sideman on a number of Blue Note titles headed up by Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan and more.

The Miles Davis Quintet – “Footprints”:

Shorter's next stop was the popular jazz-fusion band, Weather Report, which he co-founded and co-led from 1970 to 1985. The group helped define fusion during that era through the course of 16 albums, including 1980’sGrammy Award-winning live set, 8:30. Here, too, Shorter also appeared on various side projects, including solo albums and projects with Hancock's V.S.O.P. quintet, Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell and Carlos Santana.

Weather Report - "Freezin Fire/Scarlet Woman":

After leaving Weather Report, Shorter was involved in various projects, but went seven years before releasing a new album under his own name. The 1997 release, High Life, took home the Grammy that year for Best Contemporary Jazz Album. The next year he was named an NEA Jazz Master. In 2000, he formed a new acoustic quartet with pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade. He won another Grammy in 2003 for Alegria and then one more for the 2006 release, Beyond the Sound Barrier. Earlier this year, Shorter released his first new album on Blue Note in over four decades, the critically acclaimed, Without A Net.

Wayne Shorter Quartet – “Zero Gravity/Lotus”:

‪Throughout August, Night Train highlights music from the early Blakey and Blue Note titles to Shorter's latest 2013 release. Check this page for more information and daily program updates.‬

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