Synopses & Reviews
Saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter is one of the great architects of jazz, and a man whose influence will be felt by musicians and music fans for generations to come. In this first biography of Shorter, Michelle Mercer traces the amazing trajectory of fifty-year career. As fellow jazz great Herbie Hancock puts it: "Wayne Shorter has evolved as a human being to a point where he can synthesize all the history of jazz into a very special, very alive musical expression. Nobody else can do that now." In many ways, Wayne Shorter's story is the story of modern American music. Born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1933, he learned bebop as an adolescent in cutting contests with Sonny Stitt and Sonny Rollins. In the 1950s, he graduated to some "hard-drinking, hard bop years" with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. The saxophonist was the catalyst in the famous 1960s quintet of Miles Davis, then followed the trumpeter on his avant-garde electric excursions. In the 1970s, he and Joe Zawinul pioneered fusion in Weather Report. Into the 1980s and 1990s Wayne's solos graced pop recordings like Steely Dan's "Aja" and Joni Mitchell's "Hejira." And today, at age seventy, he is leading the Wayne Shorter Quartet, a group that critics have compared to Coltrane's classic quartet and to Davis's own groundbreaking quintet. A rich portrait of a great American artist, Footprints makes a vital contribution to the literature of jazz.
"Legendary jazz saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter gets an appreciative appraisal in this excellent biography by music journalist Mercer, who follows this 'determinedly eccentric' genius from his early days with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers in the late 1950s, through his stunning work with the Miles Davis Quintet in the 1960s, to his popular jazz-rock fusion band Weather Report in the 1970s and his ongoing recording and performing. She carefully details his early influences, including his mother's tireless indulgence of his creative whims and his fascination with the 1948 film The Red Shoes, whose central conflict living for oneself versus living for one's art would define his career. Mercer expertly investigates Shorter's relationships with the two pianists who most influenced his music, fellow Davis Quintet member Herbie Hancock and Weather Report co-leader Joe Zawinul, as well as the impact of his Buddhist faith on his music. Mercer also shines in her consideration of some Shorter's less critically acclaimed efforts, including his genre-defying work with Joni Mitchell and Brazilian pop singer and composer Milton Nascimento. Interviews with Shorter, Carlos Santana, Amiri Baraka and dozens of others lend depth and tone to this clear-eyed account. B&w photos not seen by PW. Agent, Dave Dunton. (Jan.) Forecast: Laudatory prefaces by Herbie Hancock and Shorter himself, plus blurbs from Carlos Santana, Sonny Rollins and Gary Giddins should signal jazz fans that this is the real deal." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
This biography is a rich portrait of saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter, one of the great architects of jazz, and a man whose influence will be felt by musicians and music fans for generations to come.
Saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter has not only left his footprints on our musical terrain, he has created a body of work that is a monument to artistic imagination. Throughout Shorter's extraordinary fifty-year career, his compositions have helped define the sounds of each distinct era in the history of jazz.
Filled with musical analysis by Mercer, enlivened by Shorter's vivid recollections, and enriched by more than seventy-five original interviews with his friends and associates, this book is at once an invaluable history of music from bebop to pop, an intimate and moving biography, and a story of a man's struggle toward the full realization of his gifts and of himself.