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Night Lights Classic Jazz

The Wayne Shorter Songbook

Wayne Shorter, one of the great tenor saxophonists and composers of the modern jazz era, is an enigmatic and searching musician and personality.

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Miles and Wayne

Photo: JazzSign/Lebrecht Music and Arts/Corbis

Wayne Shorter composed prolifically throughout the 1960s for both himself and for his boss Miles Davis.

Wayne Shorter, one of the great tenor saxophonists and composers of the modern jazz era, is an enigmatic and searching musician and personality. Shorter was once labeled by jazz critic Larry Kart as “one of the most dangerous players to ever pick up a horn–a man whose solos were described by various critics as ‘quietly maniacal’ and ‘clinically precise,’ full of ‘abrupt changes of mood’ and ‘wild satanic humor.’”

Those qualities carried over into Shorter’s compositions, which have been recorded with increasing frequency by younger jazz artists for the past three decades. As a composer Shorter was especially active throughout the 1960s, writing first for Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and then for Miles Davis’ quintet, while at the same time recording a series of albums for the Blue Note label that also featured his own compositions.

“The Wayne Shorter Songbook” features classic Shorter pieces such as “Footprints,” “Lester Left Town,” and “Infant Eyes,” as well as a nod to the Brazilian music that he’d later explore on Native Dancer (“El Gaucho”), an early recording with Lee Morgan (“Blues a la Carte”) and the first version of “Sanctuary,” which would eventually end up on Davis’ landmark Bitches Brew album.

Watch the Miles Davis Quintet perform “Footprints”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkUULYE-LAA

Watch Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers perform Shorter’s “Children of the Night”:

Longer Shorter: Larry Kart on the story behind Shorter’s 1968 Downbeat essay Creativity and Change.

Music Heard On This Episode

Blues a la Carte
Wayne Shorter — Introducing Wayne Shorter (Vee Jay, 1960)
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Blues a la Carte
Wayne Shorter — Introducing Wayne Shorter (Vee Jay, 1960)
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Lester Left Town
Art Blakey — The Big Beat (Blue Note, 1960)
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Ping Pong
Art Blakey — Roots and Herbs (Blue Note, 1961)
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Infant Eyes
Wayne Shorter — Speak No Evil (Blue Note, 1965)
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Black Nile
Wayne Shorter — Night Dreamer (Blue Note, 1964)

Notes: Midpoint music bed

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El Gaucho
Wayne Shorter — Adam's Apple (Blue Note, 1966)
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Footprints
Miles Davis — Miles Smiles (Columbia, 1966)
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Sanctuary
Miles Davis — Circle in the Round (Columbia, 1968)
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David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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