On August 23, one of America’s most iconic performance venues – the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles – witnessed an outpouring of emotion and music as the jazz community gathered to celebrate the life and legacy of Wayne Shorter, who died on March 2 at 89.
Under the guidance of his best-friend, fellow jazz legend, and ICAP president, Herbie Hancock, “Celebrating Wayne” paid homage to Mr. Shorter’s remarkable contributions to the world of jazz.
The crowd was electrified when Joni Mitchell, aged 79, took the stage, marking one of her few appearances this year. Capturing hearts and wearing a black beret and sunglasses, Mitchell sang “Circle Game,” her affecting song from 1966, echoing the beauty of growing up and maturing.
“We love you, Wayne!” Ms. Mitchell exclaimed, a sentiment that resonated deeply with those in attendance.
Alongside Ms. Mitchell, the evening was filled with memorable collaborations. Mitchell was deftly accompanied by a lineup that included Mr. Hancock on piano, Chris Potter on soprano saxophone, and John Patitucci, who had been the bassist for the Wayne Shorter Quartet.
The program for this poignant special event featured stellar performances and appearances from Jack DeJohnette, Brian Blade, Marcus Miller, Alex Acuña, Leo Genovese, Danilo Pérez, Terence Blanchard, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Carlos Santana; bass virtuoso Ron Carter, and many others who once shared the stage with both Mr. Shorter and Mr. Hancock in the illustrious Miles Davis Quintet.
The night also showcased a multi-generational group of musicians, including saxophonist Kamasi Washington; guitarist Lionel Loueke; bassist/singer esperanza spalding; drum powerhouses Cindy Blackman Santana and Terri Lyne Carrington; and the young alto saxophonist Devin Daniels from the UCLA-based Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz.
Among the many tributes, Mr. Shorter’s composition “Witch Hunt” stood out, featuring veterans of his quartet and featuring the signature sax lines he was known for. The energy surged with Carlos Santana’s electrifying guitar in “All Blues” and “Sanctuary.” Mr. Carter and others joined forces for Miles Davis Quintet classics, “Delores” and “Pinocchio.”
A noteworthy segment was dedicated to Weather Report, the groundbreaking fusion band co-headed by Mr. Shorter during the ’70s and ’80s. The tracks “Palladium,” “A Remark You Made,” and “Birdland” demonstrated Mr. Shorter’s unparalleled musical versatility and depth.
The evening’s program was a vivid display of Wayne Shorter’s indomitable spirit and monumental contribution to American music. His work transcended the boundaries of genre, blending elements of jazz, classical music, and rock to create a unique sound. And his impact was solidly tied to a vision for the future. In fact, one highlight of the evening was the announcement of the newly created Wayne Shorter Scholarship for Jazz Studies (at the Berklee College of Music in Boston), aimed at supporting promising young musicians who wish to follow in Mr. Shorter’s enormous footsteps.
As Herbie Hancock – who, along with Wayne Shorter, have been co-presidents of ICAP since its inception in August 2002 – movingly remarked during the concert, “I carry his spirit within my heart, always. He’s still here.” He reiterated that message at a public memorial event in Santa Monica, Calif., the following day, adding: “He’s a special individual. But what I got from him was that everybody is a special individual.”
Celebrants were also deeply touched to hear remarks by Mr. Shorter’s widow, Carolina Shorter. Upon thanking the many artists, collaborators, and friends in her husband’s life, she said rousing applause: “I’m sure all of you know that you were fortunate enough to experience Wayne’s magic and the power of his life. Can you imagine how fortunate I am?” And she went on to describe Mr. Shorter’s perspective on daily living, that every moment had meaning and nothing was ever wasted in life.