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Wayne Shorter at Jazz at Lincoln Center


The musical influence of saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter is incalculable. From hard bop to fusion and beyond, his contributions are not merely supplemental, they are revolutionary. 

Watch Wayne Shorter play with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis:

“Wayne’s compositions can be shaped completely differently in the hands of different kinds of bands. It’s rare to get a composition, much less a number of compositions from a single composer, with such flexibility. His compositions sound human; they touch you in a way that transcends the academics of musicality. Music is not supposed to be about B-flat-VIIs and C-minor chords. It’s supposed to be an expression of life and living. That’s what’s in Wayne’s compositions.” —Herbie Hancock 

“I think Wayne wants to make things that are invisible, visible. He’s very studious and philosophical, but there’s a strong desire to not be in the comfort zone, to be functioning at the highest creative mode that he can in every way, at every second. It’s almost like the spirit of a child. He lives constantly in that world of magic, I would say.” —Danilo Perez 

“Wayne brings us [the Wayne Shorter Quartet] things that are highly composed and orchestrated. We play them. Invariably he says, ‘Okay, that’s what it is—now I want to delve into it and break it apart and reconstruct it in many different ways.’ He wants it new every time. The form of the piece is cemented in everybody’s mind, but then the one rule, you could say, is that there are no rules.” —John Patitucci 

“Music cannot stop wars, but, like the judge says, ‘What are your intentions?’ I want the music to carry the good intentions, the good dialogue, the impetus for people to start thinking things they never thought before.” —Wayne Shorter

Program Notes from "The Music of Wayne Shorter" concert featuring Wayne Shorter and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis:

In Harold and the Purple Crayon, a children’s book from 1955, the intrepid hero, a sturdy toddler, decides to take a moonlight walk. There is no moon, and so, with his purple crayon, Harold draws one, and then decides to draw a straight path to walk upon. 

When this leads him nowhere, he follows his crayon—under the moon’s watchful eye—through a series of adventures, conjuring a field, a forest, an apple tree, a nasty dragon, an ocean, a sailboat, a beach, a picnic lunch of pie, a moose and a porcupine to join him in eating it, a mountain to climb, a balloon to ferry him down it, a house, a front yard, a city full of windows, and a policeman to point the way home. 

Then, finally, he draws his bedroom window around the moon, draws his bed, draws himself under the covers, drops the crayon, and goes to sleep. 

This mutable, synesthetic narrative is an interesting way to think about the process saxophonist Wayne Shorter followed in composing the ten compositions that the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra performed during a celebration of Shorter’s sui generis corpus, each reimagined by a separate arranger-instrumentalist from the band. 

The repertoire was drawn from some less-traveled Shorter contributions, the respective books of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers from 1959 until 1964 and the Miles Davis Quintet from 1964 to 1970, Shorter’s hard-swinging 1960s sessions for Blue Note, and the longer-form, primarily notated music of his 1990s albums for Columbia. In the mix are such classics of AABA-form hardbop as “Hammerhead” and “Nellie Bly,” which Shorter wrote during the 1950s while studying composition at New York University and serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Much attention was also paid to his cross-cultural explorations—the pool includes “Diana,” “The Three Marias,” and “Endangered Species”—and more open-ended works like “E.S.P.” and “Lost.”

Dizzy's Club

The Music of Wayne Shorter: The Early Years

With tenor and soprano saxophonists Stacy Dillard, Tivon Pennicott, and Julian Lee; bassist Russell Hall; and drummer Evan Sherman