"I have my own meaning for jazz. Jazz means, 'I dare you.' I dare you to get out of your comfort zone."
Since his emergence as a professional jazz saxophonist and composer in the 1950s, Wayne Shorter has earned a reputation as one of the most influential jazz musicians of our time. He is widely credited as a central force in the evolution of jazz from the hard-driving be-bop sound of the 1940s, to the more improvisational and jazz fusion sounds of the 1960s and 1970s, to the ongoing experimentation and genre crossover characteristic of jazz in more recent decades. Shorter has won eight Grammy Awards was named a Jazz Master by the National Endowment of the Arts in 1998.
In the 1950s, Shorter studied music at New York University and performed with such jazz greats as John Coltrane and Maynard Ferguson. He joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers in the early 1960s, then spent the second half of the decade with the Miles Davis Quintet, composing well-known tunes such as ESP, Pinocchio, and Nefertiti. In the 1970s, he became a founding member of the Weather Report, which recorded for 15 years and pioneered the jazz fusion sound—their Birdland remains a standard. In 2001, Shorter formed the Wayne Shorter Quartet and continued building his reputation as a jazz innovator. His most recent recording, Without a Net, was released in 2013, just before his 80th birthday.
Shorter was commissioned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2009, with support from the Center, to create a new work inspired by the museum's East Asian art collection. The Wayne Shorter Quartet performed the commissioned work, Lotus, in April 2010 to a crowd of almost 4,000 people at the museum's Friday evening Art After 5 series, breaking all previous series attendance records. Preceding the concert, Shorter and his quartet discussed their influences and creative process in a live panel discussion with music journalist Tom Moon.