A tribute to Wayne Shorter, March 5, 2023

Wayne Shorter at Paris Jazz Festival, 2003 Photo by P.Kobel/Wikicommons.

A special 'Just Jazz' episode dedicated to Wayne Shorter, a jazz pioneer.

Wayne is an individual that respects your intelligence. He dares you to be bold, of course, but he also does not give you the answer, because he is wise enough to know that the answers to all of our inquiries lie within. You can hear it in his phrasing. The way he plays gives you only part of the solution. Whether on stage or out there in the audience, as you listen, his sound is like a jigsaw puzzle, laying out a path that always takes you to where the road splits. You have to use your own intuitive nature to finish the journey, and those answers already exist inside you. Once you make your choice, a new branch of cognition is born, a new synapse fired, and the birth of a whole new beauty begins. In the end, you always find yourself in new places, and that existence, that place, was not an answer given to you — you were guided to new plateaus that you reached, activated and motivated by a Wayne Shorter breadcrumb.

I remember a story about Lee Morgan seeing Wayne onstage at a festival and dragging him over to where Art Blakey was playing. He basically told Blakey, “This is the dude,” and the next thing you know, a new blossom was formed. Wayne was not merely a member in all of the bands he was in; he was the glittering spark of gold that elevated each musical situation that he encountered — a sound maker, a money maker, a jewel to be treasured.

A 12-time Grammy winning artist, the last of which was just won a month ago for Best Improvised Jazz Performance on an album called Live At The Detroit Jazz Festival, which was produced by Terri Lyne Carrington and featured Esperanza Spalding and Leo Genovese. To tell the truth, Wayne’s entire life has been an improvised solo, supported by all of the musicians who surround him. This family of sous chefs know each other impeccably and work together to create an environment of trust and openness, allowing a natural flow of beauty and creativity.

As a man who lives and breathes Beyond the Sound Barrier, I think that, “In a Silent Way,” Shorter is a “Night Dreamer” and watches the earth from different perspectives, journeys into “Orbits” unknown with his “All Seeing Eye.” He “Speak No Evil” while researching the “Schizophrenia” of “Super Novas” and the Odyssey of Iska. Like a Native Dancer on New Soil, “The Soothsayer” of the “Second Genesis” discovers the Power of Three on a “Joy Ryder” to “Atlantis.” In the “Wayning Moments” of A Galactic Age, through the “Infant Eyes” of the “Children of the Night,” he realizes the Alegria does not reside in the “High Life” but starts, Ho-nim-yo, from this moment forward!

Master of the Musical Universe, we will miss your presence here on Earth but, your beauty, your passion, your cinematic philosophy vibrates and lives within us and now and forever!





LeRoy Downs