Skip to main content

Enter your email below to be the first to hear about new releases, upcoming events, and more from Dig!

Please enter a valid email address
Please accept the terms
02 March 2023

Wayne Shorter, US Jazz Saxophone Giant, Dies Aged 89

Wayne Shorter
Spread the love

Wayne Shorter, one of the United States’ greatest jazz saxophonists, has died in hospital in Los Angeles, aged 89. His publicist confirmed his death to the New York Times.

Shorter’s career spannned more than half a century, during a time when jazz evolved in a myriad of complex ways. He emerged in the 1960s as a tenor saxophonist and in-house composer for Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and the Miles Davis Quintet, two of the most celebrated small groups in jazz history.

He then helped pioneer fusion, with Davis and as a leader of the critically and commercially successful Weather Report. He also bridged the gap to popular music, collaborating with the singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell (on all of her albums from 1977’s Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter to 2002’s Travelogue), the guitarist Carlos Santana and Steely Dan, whose 1977 song Aja was graced by a Shorter tenor solo.

Shorter appeared on landmark albums by Miles Davis (Miles In Berlin, ESP, Miles Smiles, Sorcerer, Neferiti, Water Babies, Miles In The Sky, Filles De Kilimanjaro, In A Silent Way, Bitches Brew), Herbie Hancock (Man-Child, VSOP, Gershwin’s World, River: The Joni Letters), Freddie Hubbard (Ready For Freddie, Here To Stay, The Body & The Soul), and Lee Morgan (Search For The New Land, The Gigolo, Delightfulee) and many more.

Beginning in 1959, Shorter also released solo albums including the acclaimed Speak No Evil, Night Dreamer and JuJu, all recorded in 1964.

His solo work pre-empted the fusion of Weather Report. Co-led with keyboardist Joe Zawinul, and supported by various other musicians during their 16-year tenure including bassists Jaco Pastorius and Miroslav Vitouš, they blended jazz with funk and R&B grooves to enormous acclaim and success.

In 2017 he received the Polar Music prize, and in 2018, he was named as an honoree by the Kennedy Center, with Spalding saying it was “long overdue … it’s really beautiful to amplify his magic on this scale”.

In 2013 he was honoured with a lifetime achievement award from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz (now the Hancock Institute of Jazz), telling the audience his vision for music-making: “Try to create how you wish the world to be for eternity; taking off the layers and becoming what we really are, eternally.”

Sign up to our newsletter

Be the first to hear about new releases, upcoming events, and more from Dig!

Sign Up