Through composition and improvisation Wayne Shorter has created musical portraits of his wives, children, women mythological, historical and familiar, historical and folkloric figures, and respected musicians.
Some of those portrayed:
Dolores, a friend of the members of the Miles Davis Quintet. Shorter's melody imitates her speech rhythms and inflection
Ana Maria, Wayne's wife from Brazil, Ana Maria Shorter
Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese human rights worker imprisoned under house arrest by the Burmese junta for more than a decade. In Shorter's solo you can hear Shorter's admiration for her moral strength, his indignation at her imprisonment, and his disdain for the Burmese military (catch the long quotation from "Jurassic Park", bringing to mind dinosaurs from the jungle)
Infant Eyes and Miyako, portraits of his daughter Miyako at different ages
Penelope, Ulysses wife who waited for his return and fended off suitors all the while
Eurydice, fabled musician Orpheus's beloved dead wife. In legend, Orpheus traveled to the underworld and convinced Hades by the power of his musical performance to release her from death provided Orpheus never laid eyes upon her during the trip back to the living. He failed and she faded back into the underworld.
Nefertiti, chief consort of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten, who was famed for her beauty and majesty.
Teru, one of Wayne's ex-wives
Diana, the daughter of Flora Purim and Airto Moreira
Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum, the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk
Pinnochio, Gepetto's wooden son who dreamed of being a real human. In the story, Pinnochio's nose grew longer whenever he lied. You can hear this in Shorter's melody.
Tom Thumb, the midget from P.T. Barnum's expositions of the late 1800's
Chief Crazy Horse, the famous Sioux warrior who was victorious over Custer and his men
Sacajawea, the young Shoshone Indian girl who travelled with and interpreted for the Lewis and Clark Expedition
Sweet Pea, a memorial for composer Billy Strayhorn, who was called Sweet Pea by the members of the Duke Ellington Orchestra because they thought he resembled that character from the "Popeye" cartoons.
Lady Day, for Billie Holiday
Lester Left Town, a memorial for tenor saxophonist Lester Young. When someone had died, Lester, who had an oblique genius with words, would say that they had "left town". The melody is thought to mimic Lester's manner of walking.
This Is For Albert, for pianist Bud Powell
Prince of Darkness, for Miles Davis. With this piece, Shorter seems to be demonstrating Miles' near magical ability to adapt to any musical situation instantly, like a kind of musical Jedi knight.
Sincerely, Diana, for one of Art Blakey's wives
The Last Silk Hat, for pianist and singer Nat King Cole
Please join our community at SongTrellis. Our contributors welcome your comments, suggestions and requests. As soon as you join the site (or login if you are a member) a response form will appear here.