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Remembering When LA's Jazz Society Honored Saxophone Great Wayne Shorter

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Editor's note
  • This story was originally published in 2012. We are republishing the interview — with some small updates — and audio today after learning that Wayne Shorter has died at the age of 89 in Los Angeles.

In 2012, the L.A. Jazz Society chose composer and saxophone great Wayne Shorter, then 79, as its Tribute Honoree.

The New Jersey-born musician began his jazz career in the late 1950's playing with bandleader Horace Silver, and later joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and the Miles Davis quintet. Shorter went on to record his own highly acclaimed albums, including "Speak No Evil" and "Juju."

Listen: What jazz great Wayne Shorter told us about his musical inspiration
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Shorter told us in 2012 that he was originally an art major and it was a twist of fate that he ended up in a music class.

"They put me in a music class for disciplinary reasons because I played hooky," said Shorter. "My music teacher was a disciplinarian and he played the Mozart G minor 40. That’s like a jazz cymbal beat. I discovered that when I was in my junior year in high school."

Shorter said he looked at jazz stars like Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk like they were superheroes.

"And then hearing them, I wanted to get in there with them," said Shorter.

Shorter experimented with a variety of genres in more than 50 years as a jazz artist. He was with Davis when the innovative trumpeter began moving into jazz fusion in the mid 1960s.

Shorter, known as much for his composing as his playing, co-wrote "Sanctuary" on the groundbreaking 1969 Miles Davis fusion album "Bitches' Brew." A year earlier, Shorter composed most of the music on Davis' last acoustic album "Nefertiti."

Shorter also co-founded the acclaimed fusion group Weather Report in the 1970s.

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