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The Shorter, The Hotter

March 22nd, 2011

From Tonight – IOL

The Shorter, The Hotter
By Evan Milton

A music interview often begins by referencing musicians the subject has played with. Wayne Shorter, however, is the kind of living legend that other artists reference.

He was born in New Jersey in 1933, and started playing clarinet at 16 before switching to saxophone, going on to win multiple Grammy Awards (six, at last count, with 13 nominations) and earn honorary doctorates from New York University and the Berklee College of Music, among others.

He’s been declared a “jazz master” by America’s National Endowment for the Arts. His many collaborators have included Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Herbie Hancock and Jimmy Smith.

Shorter’s influence on modern music has been likened to that of Picasso on modern art, and Ingmar Bergman’s on contemporary film, and he’s still steaming ahead with quartet and symphonic projects that critics consider to be among the most powerful of his career.

He is as delighted and intrigued by life now as he was as a star-struck teen who climbed a fire-escape at a Norman Granz Philharmonic show to hear Stan Kenton, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and the clarinet-wielding Ilinois Jacquet. Turns out he also boasts a robust sense of humour.

He presents the interviewer with a dilemma, though. What do you ask the man who co-founded Weather Report, the group that became synonymous with the first wave of jazz fusion throughout the 1970s and early 80s, had his orchestra-meets-improvisation work with outfits like the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Royal Concertgebouw described as “having a feel for melody like Puccini (but with) harmonic complexity like Ravel”? Perhaps the best place to start is with a question about what Cape Town audiences can expect to hear from one of modern jazz music’s most prolific composers.

Read the entire interview here

NEXT: Abstract and Fluid PREVIOUS: Wayne Shorter Pushes the Limits of Jazz, Music at Herbst Theatre