FILE PHOTO: U.S. Jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter performs onstage during a 'tribute to Miles Davis evening' at the 45th Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux July 13, 2011. REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud/File Photo

One of the greatest instrumentalists and composers of the last 70 years, Wayne Shorter, born in Newark (New Jersey) on August 25, 1933, died on March 2 in a Los Angeles hospital. He was 89 years old and could – up until the very last moment – probably reinvent jazz 89 times. For this particular announcement, the English-language press outlets have all tried to outdo each other with their superlatives: he was a « legend, » an « icon, » and a « giant » in the world of jazz.Read more  Wayne Shorter, esoteric jazz elder, dies at 89

Three highlights of his pursuit of individual expression were his work as musical director for (jazz drummer) Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers; in trumpeter Miles Davis’ second and best quintet (1964-1968) – he was praised by Davis as being the true creator of the group; and with Weather Report, which he founded with pianist Joe Zawinul and bassist Miroslav Vitouš in 1970.

He earned too many Grammy Awards to count and wrote plenty of gold and platinum records. His fans were as philosophically as musically inclined, and he had a soft, peculiar, and not-so-flashy personality. He was the angel of the strange yet accessible.

The larger public probably missed out, with France’s mega-festivals not knowing how to go about highlighting his sound, but musicians were always well aware. He appeared in a dozen albums by the surprising Joni Mitchell, who considered him a painter, a colorist. He proved particularly sensitive to feminine musicality, in collaborations with the likes of Terri Lyne Carrington, Joni Mitchell and Esperanza Spalding.

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