“Wayne Shorter is not only one of jazz’s greatest composers but its angel of esotericism, an enlightened and arcane elder.”
– The New York Times
Considered to be one of the world’s greatest composers and one of the greatest jazz saxophonists of all time, Wayne Shorter is a recipient of 11 Grammy Awards, a Lifetime Achievement Grammy, five honorary doctorate degrees, the Kennedy Center Honor, Polar Music Prize, Lifetime Achievement Award from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and many other awards and honors for his contributions to music.
"Without the musical explorations of Wayne Shorter, modern music would not have drilled so deep.”
"Wayne is a real composer. He writes scores, writes the parts for everybody just as he wants them to sound. ... Wayne also brought in a kind of curiosity about working with musical rules."
“If jazz music traces and describes our voyage on Earth, then Wayne has written a colorful and fertile encyclopedia. His interests lie way outside of the mainstream, and the word ‘safe’ isn’t in his vocabulary.”
“I think that music opens portals and doorways into unknown sectors that it takes courage to leap into. I always think that there's a potential that we all have, and we can emerge, rise up to this potential, when necessary. We have to be fearless, courageous, and draw upon wisdom that we think we don't have.”
“It's up to the person who's being creative to find ways to emerge and shake up the world of wealth.”
“There's a certain road in life most people walk on, because it's familiar, and they can jostle to get in front place. I prefer to take a different road that's less crowded, with many forks, where you get a wider view of life. I call it 'the road less travelled'. That's where I want to be.”
“To me, the definition of faith is to fear nothing.”
“There's a steady forward march of a creative process that some of us stay with and don't give up - that should be an admirable thing - from Louis Armstrong to Charlie Parker to Miles to Ornette and some people who are not even known today - some kids coming up - people who are out to change the world.”
Wayne Shorter, called a genius, a trailblazer, a visionary, was born on August 25, 1933 in Newark, New Jersey. He studied at New York University and served in the U.S. Army. He spent brief periods in the Horace Silver quintet and the Maynard Ferguson big band before his first major association, with Art Blakey’s hard-bop Jazz Messengers. Miles Davis convinced Shorter to join his quintet in September 1964, thus completing the lineup of a group whose biggest impact would leapfrog a generation into the ’80s.
Staying with Miles until 1970, Shorter became the band’s most prolific composer at times, contributing tunes like “E.S.P.,” “Pinocchio,” “Nefertiti,” “Sanctuary,” “Footprints,” “Fall,” and the signature description of Miles, “Prince of Darkness.” Herbie Hancock said: “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.”
Following the release of Odyssey of Iska in 1970, Shorter formed Weather Report. The band produce many high-quality recordings in diverse styles, with funk, bebop, Latin jazz, ethnic music, and futurism being the most prevalent denominators. After leaving Weather Report in 1986, Shorter continued to record and lead groups in jazz fusion styles.
In 2000, he formed the first permanent acoustic group under his name, a quartet with pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Brian Blade, playing his own compositions. Four albums of live recordings have been released: Footprints Live; Beyond the Sound Barrier; Without a Net; and Emanon, with the latter, in addition to live material, including Shorter’s quartet in a studio session with the 34-piece Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.
Wayne Shorter’s works have been performed by the Chicago Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Lyon Symphony, National Polish Radio Symphonic Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Prague Philharmonic and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. He has received commissions from the National, St. Louis, and Nashville Symphony Orchestras, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the La Jolla Music Society.
Shorter has realized over 200 compositions and dozens of these works have become modern standards.
“Mr. Shorter’s mastery is in knocking down the wall between jazz and classical.”
– The New York Times
Wayne Shorter’s first opera, Iphigenia, is scheduled to premiere on November 12—13, 2021. With music by Wayne Shorter and a libretto by esperanza spalding, Iphigenia is not an adaptation of the Greek myth as much as it is an intervention into myth-making itself, and an intervention into opera as we know it.
Classical and jazz forms collide in a full orchestral score that features Shorter’s groundbreaking method of symphonic improvisation, with his venerated quartet at the center. Deeply poetic—then suddenly radical—Iphigenia uses the Euripedian myth to subvert the misogynistic and militaristic narratives imposed upon female characters in our most canonical stories. International master architect Frank Gehry will create set designs for this production directed by award-winning theater and opera director Lileana Blain-Cruz.
- Introducing Wayne Shorter (aka Blues a la Carte, Vee-Jay, 1959)
- Second Genesis (Vee-Jay, rec. 1960, rel. 1974)
- Wayning Moments (Vee-Jay, 1962)
- Night Dreamer (Blue Note, 1964)
- JuJu (Blue Note, 1964)
- Speak No Evil (Blue Note, rec. 1964, rel. 1966)
- The Soothsayer (Blue Note, rec. 1965, rel. 1979)
- Et Cetera (Blue Note, rec. 1965, rel. 1980)
- The All Seeing Eye (Blue Note, rec. 1965, rel. 1966)
- Adam’s Apple (Blue Note, rec. 1966, rel. 1967)
- Schizophrenia (Blue Note, rec. 1967, rel. 1969)
- Super Nova (Blue Note, 1969)
- Moto Grosso Feio (Blue Note, rec. 1970, rel. 1974)
- Odyssey of Iska (Blue Note, rec. 1970, rel. 1971)
- Native Dancer (Columbia, rec. 1974, rel. 1975) with Milton Nascimento
- Atlantis (Columbia, 1985)
- Phantom Navigator (Columbia, rec. 1986, rel. 1987)
- Joy Ryder (Columbia, 1988)
- High Life (Verve, 1995)
- 1+1 (Verve, 1997) with Herbie Hancock
- Footprints Live! (Verve, 2002)
- Alegría (Verve, 2003)
- Beyond the Sound Barrier (Verve, rec. live 2002–2004, rel. 2005) as Wayne Shorter Quartet
- Carlos Santana and Wayne Shorter – Live at the Montreux Jazz Festival 1988 (Image Entertainment, 2007) with Carlos Santana
- Without a Net (Blue Note, rec. live 2010, rel. 2013) as Wayne Shorter Quartet
- Emanon (Blue Note, 2018)
- 1962: DownBeat Readers Poll / New Star Saxophonist
- 1979: Grammy Award for Best Jazz Fusion Performance for Weather Report‘s 8:30
- 1987: Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition for “Call Sheet Blues” by Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Billy Higgins (on The Other Side of Round Midnight Featuring Dexter Gordon)
- 1994: Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Individual or Group for A Tribute to Miles
- 1996: Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Jazz Album for High Life
- 1996: Miles Davis Award, Montreal International Jazz Festival
- 1997: Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition for “Aung San Suu Kyi” (on 1+1)
- 1998: NEA Jazz Masters
- 1999: Honorary Doctorate of Music by the Berklee College of Music
- 1999: Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo for “In Walked Wayne” (on J. Johnson‘s Heroes)
- 2003: Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition for “Sacajawea” (on Alegría)
- 2003: Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Individual or Group for Alegría
- 2005: Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Individual or Group for Beyond the Sound Barrier
- 2006: Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Award Small Ensemble Group of the Year to the Wayne Shorter Quartet
- 2013: DownBeat Critics Poll / Jazz Group (Wayne Shorter Quartet)
- 2013: DownBeat Readers Poll / Jazz Group (Wayne Shorter Quartet)
- 2014: Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo for “Orbits” (on Without a Net)
- 2014: Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement presented by Awards Council member Willie L. Brown Jr.
- 2014: DownBeat Critics Poll / Jazz Group (Wayne Shorter Quartet)
- 2015: DownBeat Critics Poll / Soprano Saxophone
- 2015: Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
- 2016: DownBeat Critics Poll / Soprano Saxophone
- 2016: DownBeat Readers Poll / Soprano Saxophone
- 2017: Polar Music Prize
- 2017: The Rolf Schock Prizes in Musical Arts.
- 2017: DownBeat Readers Poll / Soprano Saxophone
- 2018: Kennedy Center Honors
- 2018: DownBeat Readers Poll / Soprano Saxophone & Tenor Saxophon
- 2019: Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album (Emanon) — Wayne Shorter Quartet.
- 2019: DownBeat Readers Poll / Jazz Artist
- 2019: DownBeat Readers Poll / Jazz Album Emanon
- 2019: DownBeat Readers Poll / Soprano Saxophone