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Today in Jazz – Wayne Shorter’s 81st Birthday! (Aug 25, 1933)

Wayne ShorterSo you can probably count on you fingers how many musicians are still performing beyond the age of 80. Two that I can think of off the top of my head are  B.B. King and Tony Bennett, and when Wayne Shorter,  Wayne Shorter joined that group last year and this year Wayne will kick off a European Tour on October  16th in Croatia. Among the destinations are Sweden, Denmark, Spain and Portugl! Wayne was born in Newark, New Jersey on August 25,1933.

For some unknown reason, I know Wayne’s name, but until last year, I had not really listened to any of his best albums. I know I have heard his sax before, I have some Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, along with Miles Davis in my collection and I know I’ve listened to Weather Report! Can you say, once again, too much music, too little time! So this post is not only for you readers, but for me, too! From Wikiipedia:

Jazz critic Ben Ratliff of the New York Times has described Shorter as “probably jazz’s greatest living small-group composer and a contender for greatest living improviser.“[1] Many of Shorter’s compositions have become jazz standards. His output has earned worldwide recognition, critical praise and various commendations, including multiple Grammy Awards.[2] He has also received acclaim for his mastery of the soprano saxophone (after switching his focus from the tenor in the late 1960s), beginning an extended reign in 1970 as Down Beat’s annual poll-winner on that instrument, winning the critics’ poll for 10 consecutive years and the readers’ for eighteen.

Shorter first came to wide prominence in the late 1950s as a member of, and eventually primary composer for, Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. In the 1960s, he went on to join Miles Davis’s Second Great Quintet, and from there he co-founded the jazz fusion band Weather Report. He has recorded over 20 albums as a bandleader. Continue Reading

Shorter  growing up in Newark had his first great jazz epiphany as a teenager. From his biography at his website:

“I remember seeing Lester Young when I was 15 years old. It was a Norman Granz Jazz at the Philharmonic show in Newark and he was late coming to the theater. Me and a couple of other guys were waiting out front of the Adams Theater and when he finally did show up, he had the pork pie hat and everything. So then we were trying to figure out how to get into the theater from the fire escape around the back. We eventually got into the mezzanine and saw that whole show — Stan Kenton and Dizzy Gillespie bands together on stage doing ‘Peanut Vendor,’ Charlie Parker with strings doing ‘Laura’ and stuff like that. And Russell Jacquet…Ilinois Jacquet. He was there doing his thing. That whole scene impressed me so much that I just decided, ‘Hey, man, let me get a clarinet.’ So I got one when I was 16, and that’s when I started music.

Speak No EvilSo in an effort to catch up on Shorter’s solo career I went to AllMusic and reviewed his discography and am listening to one of the AllMusic Editor picks his 1964, Blue Note release Speak No Evil. Thom Jurek writes

On his third date for Blue Note within a year, Wayne Shorter changed the bands that played on both Night Dreamer and Juju and came up with not only another winner, but also managed to give critics and jazz fans a different look at him as a saxophonist. Because of his previous associations with McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, and Reggie Workman on those recordings, Shorter had been unfairly branded with the “just-another-Coltrane-disciple” tag, despite his highly original and unusual compositions. Here, with only Jones remaining and his bandmates from the Miles Davis Quintet, Herbie Hancock and Ron Carter on board (with Freddie Hubbard filling out the horn section), Shorter at last came into his own and caused a major reappraisal of his earlier work .Read More

No need to say it’s very good and some of Shorter’s music will join my work jazz listening rotation!

So Happy 81st  Birthday, Mr Shorter!! Here’s the title track from Speak No Evil.