Jazz Legend Wayne Shorter Dead at 89

Jazz legend Wayne Shorter, a saxophone player known for playing with icons like Miles Davis, Carlos Santana, and Joni Mitchell, passed away in Los Angeles on Thursday (March 2). He was 89 years old. No cause of death was given.

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The news was posted on the artist’s Facebook page. “Today at 4 am, Wayne Shorter peacefully continued on his immense journey into the unknown. He was surrounded by loving family. In his words, ‘It’s time to go get a new body and come back to continue the mission.'”

The American musician and composer, nicknamed “Mr. Gone” for his passion and musical spirit, rose to fame in the 1950s working for Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. In the following decade, he began playing with Davis and his Second Great Quintet. He later co-founded the jazz band Weather Report.

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As a bandleader, his discography spans more than 20 albums, garnering 12 Grammy Awards.

Shorter played on Davis’ Bitches Brew, Steely Dan’s Aja, Don Henley’s The End of the Innocence, and on the score of David Mamet’s film, Glengarry Glen Ross.

In 2015, Shorter talked with pianist Ethan Iverson about his childhood, saying, “Most of the kids during the summer, they were out playing baseball or football. But I stayed in, sketching.”

Shorter was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey. As a young adult, he began to make a name in New York City. He was drafted into the U.S. army in the mid-1950s, serving his country for two years. On weekends, he performed.

Since his death earlier this week, many in the jazz community and beyond have mourned rhw loss of a giant in the industry.

“We are deeply saddened to announce that visionary saxophonist, composer & Blue Note legend #WayneShorter has passed away at age 89,” wrote legendary Blues music record label, Blue Note, on Twitter. “Born August 25, 1933, in Newark, NJ, Shorter has left an indelible mark on the development of music for more than 60 years.”

“Wayne Shorter, my best friend, left us with courage in his heart, love, and compassion for all, and a seeking spirit for the eternal future,” added iconic piano player and Shorter collaborator Herbie Hancock. “He was ready for his rebirth. As it is with every human being, he is irreplaceable.”

Photo by Liz O. Baylen/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

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