Wayne Shorter, jazz saxophonist and composer, has died at age 89

Mar 2, 2023, 2:16 PM
Miles Davis playing trumpet and Wayne Sorter playing saxophone on stage....
American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and composer Miles Davis and American saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter perform together at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, UK, 29th October 1967. (David Redfern/Redferns/Getty Images)
(David Redfern/Redferns/Getty Images)

(CNN) — Wayne Shorter, a Grammy-winning saxophonist and composer who helped shaped the sound of contemporary jazz, has died, according to his publicist. He was 89.

Shorter died Thursday in Los Angeles, his publicist Cem Kurosman with Blue Note Records told CNN in an email. No cause of death was shared.

Shorter was nominated for 23 Grammy Awards during his career and won 12 times. His first Grammy nomination was in 1973. His most recent win was in January for best improvised jazz solo performance for “Endangered Species.”

Shorter began playing the clarinet at age 16 but later turned his focus to the tenor sax before entering New York University in 1952.

Upon graduating in 1956, he played with jazz pianist Horace Silver until he was drafted into the Army. He served for two years, per the artist’s biography on

Throughout the late ’50s and into the ’60s, Shorter joined various jazz groups and collaborated with artists such as Maynard Ferguson, Joe Zawinul and Art Blakey. In 1964, he was recruited by legendary jazz trumpeter Miles Davis to join Davis’s Second Great Quintet band, with which he played until 1970.

With Davis, Shorter was one of the Second Great Quintet band’s most prolific composers and contributed to hits such as “Nefertiti.”

In the ’70s and ’80s, Shorter played with various jazz bands and musicians. He had a 15-year run in the group Weather Report, a group he co-founded, playing alongside Zawinul and Miroslav Vitous until 1985.

Shorter went on to collaborate with various rock ‘n’ roll legends. He toured with Carlos Santana in 1988, and contributed to the Rolling Stones’ 1997 hit album “Bridges to Babylon” on saxophone. In 1998, Shorter was also featured on jazz pianist Herbie Hancock’s “Gershwin World” album.

Other notable musicians Shorter worked with include Joni Mitchell and Steely Dan.

In 1999, Shorter received an honorary doctorate from the Berklee School of music alongside legendary rock artist David Bowie, who was also a skilled saxophone player.

“Wayne and myself were just so moved to hear our compositions coming back at us through your ears and abilities. It was dynamite,” Bowie said during his commencement address.

Shorter received an honorary doctorate award from NYU in 2010 during the university’s commencement at Yankee Stadium. In 2015, he was honored by the Recording Academy, the organization behind the Grammy Awards, with a lifetime achievement award. Shorter was also an honoree at the 2018 Kennedy Center Honors ceremony.

Hancock called Shorter his “best friend” in a statement shared to CNN on Thursday from Shorter’s publicist Alisse Kingsley at Muse Media, going on to say that the late musician “left us with courage in his heart, love and compassion for all, and a seeking spirit for the eternal future.”

“I carry his spirit within my heart always,” Hancock said.

Shorter is survived by his wife Carolina, daughters Miyako and Mariana and his newborn grandson Max, according to his publicist’s statement.

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Wayne Shorter, jazz saxophonist and composer, has died at age 89