Wayne Shorter, innovator in times of jazz change, dies at 89

After joining, Mr. Shorter contributed new compositions to each of the Miles Davis Quintet’s studio albums, beginning with the title track of “ESP” in 1965. During an engagement at Chicago’s Plugged Nickel later that year, his tenor solos were marvels of invention , which even resemble a songbook standard “On Green Dolphin Street” into a portal for shadowy intrigue.

But there could be no topping on the scale of intrigue “Nefertiti”, the title track of a Davis Quintet album released in 1968. A 16-bar composition with a slippery melody and a cleverly vague harmonic path, it was so holistic in effect that Davis decided to record it with no solos, just the melody line played over and over. In Michelle Mercer’s 2004 bookFootprints: The Life and Work of Wayne Shorter,” Mr. Shorter described “Nefertiti” as “my most sprung all-in-one-piece music-writing experience,” as if someone were remembering a trance.

Most of Mr. Shorter’s storied output on Blue Note unfolded while he worked with Davis, often with some of the same musical partners. He chronicled some aspects of his life on these albums: “Speak No Evil”, recorded in 1964, featured his wife Teruko Nakagami, known as Irene, on the cover and included a song (“Infant Eyes”) dedicated to their daughter, Miyako. The marriage ended in divorce in 1966; “Miyako” would be the name of another composition next year.

Unlike the other members of the Miles Davis Quintet, Mr. Shorter stayed put through Davis’ foray into rock and funk – on the tight 1969 album “In A Silent Way” with Austrian keyboardist-composer Josef Zawinul and on the epochal spread of ” bitches brew.”

Together with Mr. Zawinul and Czech bassist Miroslav Vitous, Mr. Shorter then formed Weather Report, which released his debut album in 1971, simply called “Weather Report”. Over the next 15 years, the band changed hands several times, with Mr. Zawinul and Mr. Shorter as the only constants. Weather Report also changed the style, away from chamber-like abstraction and towards danceable rhythms. His most commercially successful output, featuring electric bass phenomenon Jaco Pastorius, became an arena attraction, and one of his albums, Heavy Weather, went gold (and later went platinum).

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/02/arts/music/wayne-shorter-dead.html Wayne Shorter, innovator in times of jazz change, dies at 89


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