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Jazz Icon Wayne Shorter Passes Away at 89

Tom Beetz, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Jazz icon Wayne Shorter, a renowned saxophonist and composer with a career spanning more than 50 years, has died at age 89.

A publicist at Blue Note Records, Cem Kurosman, confirmed his passing on Thursday in Los Angeles.

Shorter, a 12-time Grammy Award winner, was born on August 25, 1933, in Newark, New Jersey. He gained recognition as a composer and saxophonist while performing with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers after studying music at New York University in the mid-1950s. 

In the mid-1960s, he joined the Miles Davis Quintet, playing alongside renowned musicians such as pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams.

Throughout his storied career, Shorter's music evolved from hard bop to experimental jazz and rock-influenced jazz. His innovative sound inspired countless musicians and continues to influence jazz today. 

Shorter even contributed saxophone solos to two soft rock hits, Steely Dan's "Aja" and Don Henley's "The End of the Innocence," which reached the US Top 10. He also played on the Rolling Stones' 1997 album "Bridges to Babylon."

Shorter received numerous accolades for his contributions to the music world, including the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Fellowship, the Kennedy Center Honors and the Jazz Foundation of America Lifetime Achievement Award.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Davis' Second Great Quintet in 2006.

The news of Shorter's death has elicited an outpouring of grief and tributes from musicians and fans alike, who celebrated his immense talent and lasting impact on jazz music.

Fellow saxophone great and composer Charles Lloyd best summed up the general mood while expressing his condolences on Twitter.

"It has been a deeply sad morning to learn that my brother and fellow explorer of the Inner and Outer Universe @Wayne_Shorte has left town," Lloyd wrote. "The Maestro was a visionary, a great composer, and a friend with whom I shared a love for the Eternal Now."

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