Rest In Love, Wayne Shorter (August 25th, 1933-March 2nd, 2023)

by | Mar 3, 2023 | Marion's Favorites, Wisdom From Kammbia Column | 0 comments

I found out earlier today that the legendary jazz saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter passed away at the age of 89.  Outside of Miles Davis, Wes Montgomery, and the Pat Metheny Group, I have listened to Wayne Shorter’s music the most when it comes to jazz.  I was introduced to his music by a friend (whose name is Wayne also) at his home when I lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico in the mid 1990s.  The friend played the fusion group, Weather Report’s first two albums (Weather Report and I Sing The Body Electric) for me.  He was telling me about the saxophone player in that group and his importance to jazz.  I thought those Weather Report albums were interesting but not quite my cup of tea.

But, the musician friend played Wayne Shorter’s 1974 groundbreaking album, Native Dancer, featuring an upcoming Brazilian musician named Milton Nascimento that caught my attention.  The opening song from that album, Ponta De Areia showcased Nascimento’s unique falsetto blending with Shorter’s haunting saxophone sound into something I had not heard before. I became a Wayne Shorter fan from that album.  A short time later, I bought Shorter’s 1995 release, High Life, which was not well-received at the time by jazz critics.  I disagreed with that assessment and High Life has become one of the albums I have played on a regular basis.   Songs like Children of the Night, Maya, and Virgo Rising (my favorite tune on the album) were enjoyable and contemplative pieces of music.

Last year, I read his biography, Footprints, that chronicles his artistic life from the humble beginnings in Newark, New Jersey to the early 2000s when the book was published. The book revealed his artistic curiosity from science fiction novels to comic books to films and how they influenced his music. Also, it goes into detail with the major points of his career from getting his start with drummer Art Blakely to being a member of Miles Davis’ 2nd great quintet, and his time leading the fusion group, Weather Report. Footprints portrayed Shorter as an enigmatic genius and a sage.

In a world that is becoming less curious and more inflexible by the day, it was refreshing to read how Shorter lived a true artistic life. His music covering seven decades has produced some of the most important compositions in jazz.  He is the greatest saxophonist (with due respect to John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins) that America has ever produced.

I have a deep affinity for his artistry and I’m forever grateful that I got introduced to his music by my friend.  Rest In Love, Wayne Shorter and thank you for trying to make the world a better place through your music.


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Marion Hill