R.I.P., Wayne Shorter

Wayne Shorter has moved on to that Big Stage in the Sky.

The tenor saxophonist and composer was 89.

Dude played with everyone. I first heard him with Weather Report, then Steely Dan. He played with Carlos Santana and Joni Mitchell, Miles Davis and Art Blakey.

And he kept his ears, eyes and mind wide open. Writes Nate Chinen in The New York Times:

A lifelong fan of comic books and science fiction, he kept a shelf crowded with action figures and wore T-shirts emblazoned with the Superman “S” logo.

Throughout his career he refused to hew too closely to any tradition except that of fearless expedition. “The word ‘jazz,’ to me,” he liked to say, “only means ‘I dare you.’”

While we’re talking jazz, David A. Graham at The Atlantic — who also has some thoughts about Shorter — reminds me that it’s the centenary of another great tenor saxophonist, Dexter Gordon, who likewise had a habit of stretching himself.

Writes Graham:

He came to greatest popular notice when, in 1986, he starred in the jazz-themed film “Round Midnight.” It was his first and last starring role, and he was nominated for an Oscar for best actor. But the best Dex is blowing Dex. Take his classic “Go” for a spin.

Here’s “Cheesecake,” from that album:

Every time I hear a horn played like this, I wish I’d gotten in line a little quicker when they were passing out the instruments in music class back in seventh grade.

I wanted to try clarinet, but they were all full up, so I went with flute. Flute’s fun, but man, it’s not the sax.

Tags: ,

3 Responses to “R.I.P., Wayne Shorter”

  1. SAO’ Says:

    Tradition is peer pressure from dead people.

    Everything he played sounded like “I dare you.”

  2. Pat O’Brien Says:

    Wow. I‘m sure I have heard him many times, but I didn’t know who was playing. He played free.

  3. Patrick O'Grady Says:

    I was late to jazz, back-dooring my way in through fusion (Chick Corea/Return to Forever, The Crusaders, Weather Report, et al.). Also Stanley Turrentine, Grover Washington Jr., and Pat Matheny.

    Once I got there I was hooked. I might have more jazz/fusion albums in my collection than anything else. No expert, mind you, just a fan.

    The onliest times I ever got to play a reed instrument was in high school. Oboe and bassoon. Don’t see a lot of those in jazz bands. The oboe is the express lane to an aneurysm and the bassoon is like playing a trench mortar.

    The endangered bassoon

    Save the bassoon!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: