Wayne Shorter, jazz saxophone legend, has died. He was 89 years old

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated on entertainment news

Legendary American saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter, one of the greatest in the history of jazz and fusion, has passed away at the age of 89 in Los Angeles. He was born on August 25, 1933 in New Jersey. In his long career, first on the tenor sax and then on the soprano sax, he helped define the sound of modern jazz with his signature compositions, such as Footprints, Black Nile And Speak No Evil. Shorter was also a member of some of the most notable formations of the 1960s and 1970s, such as Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers; the so-called “second quintet” of Miles Davis and the Weather Report, and has established important collaborations with artists far from his genre.

The man, the personality, the sound

Mr. Gone or Mr. Weird. These were just some of the nicknames Shorter received, who distinguished himself for an innovative use of instruments, especially the soprano sax. “Being original, for me, means exalting what you are doing in such a profound way that it enriches it: the more original you can be, the deeper your confrontation with eternity is,” he once declared. His career was in eternal evolution: after his debut at the end of the Fifties with the Jazz Messengers, drummer Art Blakey’s legendary band, he entered Miles Davis’ “second quintet”, together with pianist Herbie Hancock, double bass player Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams. In the 1960s he also began a collaborative relationship with Blue Note Records, with which he recorded several solo albums (famous are his Adam’s Apple And Speak No Evil) and also experimented with Davis the fusion genre, (remember in this regard In a silent way And Bitches Brew). In the seventies he embarked on a new adventure, founding the fusion group Weather Report together with pianist Joe Zawinul and Miroslav Vitouš, with which he had enormous public success. During this period he collaborated with some famous artists and artists, such as singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell and guitarist Carlos Santana. Religion too played his part in Wayne Shorter’s life, marked by nearly 50 years of devotion to Nichiren Buddhism, a Japanese lineage of oriental worship. “I was hearing about Buddhism, but then I started looking into it and I started opening up and finding out what was happening in the rest of the world instead of the West,” Shorter told NPR in 2013. This is also why he then formed the Wayne in 2000. Shorter Quartet, together with pianist Danilo Pérez, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade, all artists younger than him. In his career he has won 11 Grammys to which one is added to his career. A very long journey that can be summed up well with an old statement by him. “We have a sentence in Buddhism: hom nim yoh”, he also told NPR in 2013. “The meaning is clear: ‘From this moment on is the first day of my life.’ So put 100% into the moment you are in because the present moment is the only moment you can change the past and the future.”

Health problems

Shorter had struggled with health issues in recent years, and dozens of jazz musicians, both collaborators and generations of artists he inspired, such as Terrace Martin, Kamasi Washington, Terence Blanchard, rallied around the saxophonist through benefit concerts to help raise money to help pay for her medical bills.

The relationship with Pino Daniele

Shorter’s relationship with Italy was also very close: in fact he was several times a guest of Umbria Jazz, which is held in Perugia every year in July. Pino Daniele’s fans, on the other hand, cannot forget the cameo of the jazz musician in one of the famous songs by the Neapolitan singer-songwriter, that is Beautiful ‘mbriana, released in 1982. A piece that conquered him: “I remember that Wayne Shorter wrote the melody on a sheet of music and under the notes he put a phrase that I will never forget: From these notes everyone will understand where you come from and the wind it will take your melodies around the world”, recalled Pino Daniele. For him Shorter had words of affection in his last visit to Italy, at the Ravello Festival in 2017: “He was the gypsy of Naples, an innovator, a musician at 360 degrees. He wanted to change the music of his city, a city of music. And he did it ”.