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Alan Shorter

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Alan Shorter (May 29, 1932 - 1987) was a free jazz trumpet and flugelhorn player, and the older brother of composer and saxophone player Wayne Shorter.

Alan was born in the Ironbound District in Newark, New Jersey. He started on alto saxophone, but switched to trumpet after graduating from high school. He attended Howard University but soon rebelled again the ultra-conservative atmosphere and dropped out (he later attended and graduated from New York University (NYU)). He played his first professional gigs with a local bebop big band called the Jackie Bland Band (other members included his brother Wayne, trombonist Grachan Moncur III, and pianist Walter Davis, Jr.). He was very much a bebop player in his early years, but soon gravitated towards free jazz, and with the exception of six months he spent in a US Army Band, continued to play in that style for the rest of his career.

He recorded two albums as a leader: Orgasm (1968) and Tes Esat (1971) (both were out of print for many years until re-issued by Verve Records in 2004 and 2005 respectively). He also recorded five albums with saxophonist Archie Shepp (1965-1970), including the classic, Four for Trane, three albums with Marion Brown (1965-1966), one album with Alan Silva (1970), and made an appearance on one of his brother’s albums (The All Seeing Eye in 1965). Several of these albums feature his unusual compositions, his most famous being “Mephistopheles”.

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