Wayne Shorter

wayne-shorter-sanremo-631Wayne Shorter was born in Newark, NJ in 1933. He began playing clarinet in high school and later switched to the tenor saxophone. From 1952 to 1956 he studied music at New York University and played in a local bands, including a short stint with pianist Horace Silver before being drafted in 1956. Following his discharge in October 1958 he was recruited by Art Blakey to join his band, the Jazz Messengers. He stayed with Messengers until 1963, contributing much of the band’s repertoire and acting as the musical director. It is this period from 1959 through 1961 that is the subject of this series of podcasts on Wayne Shorter.

Wayne Shorter 1959-1961 - Episode 1

In addition to being an oustanding tenor saxophonist with a very original sound and style, he is equally renowned today as one of the most important jazz composers post 1960. Wayne began to compose a series of uniquely constructed compositions beginning in 1959 that would eventually alter the style of hard bop improvisation and transform the sound of the Messengers. The works on podcast #1 are all from 1959.
CompositionArtist/LeaderAlbumYear
WrinklesWayne Shorter/Wynton KellyKelly Great!1959
June NightWayne Shorter/Wynton KellyKelly Great!1959
Blues a La CarteWayne ShorterIntroducing Wayne Shorter1959
Down in the DepthsWayne ShorterIntroducing Wayne Shorter1959
Black DiamondWayne ShorterIntroducing Wayne Shorter1959

Wayne Shorter 1959-1961 - Episode 2

Many of the new works that Wayne was composing for the Messengers recordings after 1960 contained sinewy melodies, unexpected harmonies, and often unusual forms. This forced the musicians to change the way they improvised through these new compositions. It was easy for Wayne to play through his own tunes. His style soon began to change and move away from the Coltrane/Rollins influenced approach. The Young Lions session was a great arranging opportunity for Wayne because he had another horn player in the band to fill out his harmonies.
CompositionArtist/LeaderAlbumYear
The Chess PlayersWayne Shorter/Art BlakeyThe Big Beat1960
Sakeena's VisionWayne Shorter/Art BlakeyThe Big Beat1960
Lester Left TownWayne Shorter/Art BlakeyThe Big Beat1960
The Seeds of SinWayne ShorterThe Young Lions1960

Wayne Shorter 1959-1961 - Episode 3

The recordings on this podcast show Wayne experimenting with unusual harmonic movement and form. He was moving away from the standard format of jazz composition. A number of these works have no definitive tonal or key center and seem to have a floating quality. These works would later form the basis of the Miles Davis Quintet of the mid 1960’s (that included Shorter and pianist Herbie Hancock) and Shorter’s great Blue Note recordings from the same period. The 1961 albums included trombonist Curtis Fuller and gave Shorter another musical voice to fill out his arrangements.
CompositionArtist/LeaderAlbumYear
Pug NoseWayne ShorterIntroducing Wayne Shorter1960
Sincerely DianaWayne ShorterArt Blakey and the Jazz Messengers1960
The AlbatrossWayne ShorterSecond Genesis1960
TenderfootWayne ShorterSecond Genesis1960
El ToroWayne Shorter/Art BlakeyFreedom Rider1961
Children of the NightWayne Shorter/Art BlakeyMosaic1961