Wayne Shorter has died aged 89.
His publicist confirmed his death to the New York Times.
One of the great jazz saxophonists, Shorter had been at the core of modern jazz since he joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in 1958. He eventually became musical director for the Jazz Messengers, composing pieces for the band, before joining Miles Davis in 1964.
Shorter played with Davis’ Second Great Quintet alongside Herbie Hancock on piano, Ron Carter on bass and Tony Williams on drums, playing on a peerless run of albums: E.S.P., Miles Smiles, Sorcerer, Nefertiti, Miles In The Sky and Filles de Kilimanjaro.
Speaking to Uncut last year, Hancock said of the Quintet: “When Wayne finally joined, that was the link we really needed. It was hard work, because the level of musicianship was so high. Those were the best guys in the business.”
Shorter continued to work with Davis after the Quintet broke up, playing on his 1969 masterpiece, In A Silent Way.
He formed pioneering fusion band Weather Report in 1970, with whom he remained until 1986.
Meanwhile, Shorter collaborated outside jazz, appearing on multiple Joni Mitchell albums, Steely Dan‘s 1977 album Aja – where he played a memorable solo on the title track – Santana, the Rolling Stones and others.
Shorter’s own catalogue was equally progressive and open-minded. The many highlights included the trio of albums he released in 1964 – Speak No Evil, Night Dreamer and JuJu – during his time on Blue Note, and “Footprints” from his 1966 album Adam’s Apple, a different recording of which also appeared on Miles Smiles.
Shorter formed his own Quartet in 2000. He retired in 2018, after having spent almost 70 years performing.