Playlist: “Miles Plays Wayne”

November 16th, 2021

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photo by Brian McMillen

Brian McMillen Photography: Saxophone/Reeds &emdash; Wayne Shorter

Wayne Shorter at Monterey Jazz Festival, 1992

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Bob Hecht, a frequent contributor to Jerry Jazz Musician, writes about a current fascination – the compositions of Wayne Shorter, and his contributions to the Miles Davis groups he played in during his time with the trumpeter, 1964 – 1970.  A 20 song Spotify playlist Bob assembled follows. 

 

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…..Wayne Shorter is rightly considered to be a saxophonist and composer in the very highest echelon of jazz. It could, or perhaps should be argued that he is jazz’s greatest living composer; his classic output during the fifties and sixties alone places him on a very rarefied plane among jazz composers. His compositions are unique and idiosyncratic and often mysterious—they have been called “sphinx-like”—and despite they’re being musically complex and difficult to navigate, many have become jazz standards.

…..A recent look at Shorter the composer has vividly reminded me of Wayne’s hugely influential contributions to the Miles Davis groups of 1964-70, during which time Wayne was the featured saxophonist and one of the primary composers. Herbie Hancock has called Wayne “the master writer” of that band, and has said that Shorter’s compositions were the only ones submitted to Miles that Davis didn’t change! During those years, Shorter contributed such enduring classics as “E.S.P.,” “Nefertiti,” Fall,” “Sanctuary,” “Footprints,” and “Iris,” to name a few.

…..Shorter’s contributions to the Davis aggregation were enormous; his compositions (along with his tenor and soprano saxophone playing) expanded the group’s emotional depth, adding new colors, and providing richly creative vehicles for improvisation. To highlight the pleasures of Shorter’s significant role with Davis, I’ve  put together a playlist, “Miles Plays Wayne,” featuring the major Shorter tunes Miles recorded. They are organized in chronological order, starting with their first collaboration, the title tune of the album, “E.S.P.,” and ending with Wayne’s final tune for Miles, “Sanctuary.”

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Bob Hecht frequently contributes his essays, photographs, interviews, playlists and personal stories to  Jerry Jazz Musician.  He has a long history of producing and hosting jazz radio programs; his former podcast series, The Joys of Jazz, was the 2019 Silver Medal winner in the New York Festivals Radio Awards.

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The photographer Brian McMillen has been documenting the jazz scene since the mid-1970’s.  To view his work, visit his website by clicking here.

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Click here for information about how to submit a playlist for consideration

 

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