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Wayne Shorter

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Wayne Shorter (born August 25, 1933) is an American jazz composer and saxophonist. Shorter has recorded dozens of albums as a leader, and appeared on dozens more with others. Many of his compositions have become standards.

Shorter was born in Newark, New Jersey, and attended Newark Arts High School. He was encouraged by his father to take up the saxophone as a teenager (his brother Alan became a trumpeter). After graduating from New York University in 1956 Shorter spent two years in the US Army, during which time he played briefly with Horace Silver, and after his discharge from the army with Maynard Ferguson.

In 1959 Shorter joined Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers. He stayed with Blakey for five years, and eventually became musical director for the group. In 1964, Miles Davis persuaded Shorter to leave Blakey and join the Miles Davis Quintet alongside Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. Davis had been searching for a saxophonist to replace John Coltrane for some time, and the new quintet is considered by many to have been Davis’s strongest working group. Shorter composed extensively for Davis (“Prince of Darkness”, “ESP”, “Footprints”, “Sanctuary”, and many others; on some albums he provided half of the compositions).

Herbie Hancock had this to say of Shorter’s tenure in the group: “The master writer to me, in that group, was Wayne Shorter. He still is a master. Wayne was one of the few people who brought music to Miles that didn’t get changed.” Davis said: “Wayne is a real composer. He writes scores, write the parts for everybody just as he wants them to sound. He also brought in a kind of curiosity about working with musical rules.

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