Today is Wayne Shorter’s 85th birthday. The saxophonist and composer’s professional debut was in a brief 1950s stint with Horace Silver. Following service in the Army, he became a key soloist in Maynard Ferguson’s big band, then entered a long, productive period as Art Blakey’s music director. In the Miles Davis Quintet in the ‘60s he became increasingly important as a soloist and as the composer of pieces including “E.S.P.,” “Fall,” and “Sanctuary” that quickly became established in the repertoires of musicians around the world. In 1970, Shorter and pianist Joe Zawinul founded the band called Weather Report, for which Shorter composed further pieces that became jazz standards.
Let’s listen to Shorter compositions from widely spaced periods of his career.
First: “One By One” with the Blakey group from the album Ugetsu. The band’s front line was Shorter on tenor saxohone, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and trombonist Curtis Fuller.
Now, here’s Shorter last year at Italy’s Umbria Jazz festival, playing soprano saxophone, with Clark Undell conducting an arrangement of Shorter’s “The Three Marias.” The other members of his quartet—Danilo Perez, piano; John Patitucci, bass; and Brian Blade, drums—were incorporated into the massive orchestra.