LA Jazz Society honors saxophone great Wayne Shorter (photos)

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The L.A. Jazz Society has chosen composer and saxophone great Wayne Shorter as its Tribute Honoree this year.

The New Jersey-both 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, 79, went on to record his own highly acclaimed albums, including "Speak No Evil" and "Juju."

Shorter told KPCC 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 hookey," 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 has 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, who's 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.

Shorter will be honored at the LA Jazz Society's awards dinner at the Universal Hilton on Sunday and will perform in a concert that evening.

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