- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Tarcher (December 29, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 158542353X
- ISBN-13: 978-1585423538
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,298,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Footprints: The Life and Music of Wayne Shorter
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From Publishers Weekly
Legendary jazz saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter gets an appreciative appraisal in this excellent biography by music journalist Mercer, who follows this "determinedly eccentric" genius from his early days with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers in the late 1950s, through his stunning work with the Miles Davis Quintet in the 1960s, to his popular jazz-rock fusion band Weather Report in the 1970s and his ongoing recording and performing. She carefully details his early influences, including his mother's tireless indulgence of his creative whims and his fascination with the 1948 film The Red Shoes, whose central conflict—living for oneself versus living for one's art—would define his career. Mercer expertly investigates Shorter's relationships with the two pianists who most influenced his music, fellow Davis Quintet member Herbie Hancock and Weather Report co-leader Joe Zawinul, as well as the impact of his Buddhist faith on his music. Mercer also shines in her consideration of some Shorter's less critically acclaimed efforts, including his genre-defying work with Joni Mitchell and Brazilian pop singer and composer Milton Nascimento. Interviews with Shorter, Carlos Santana, Amiri Baraka and dozens of others lend depth and tone to this clear-eyed account. B&w photos not seen by PW.
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Footprints is a fascinating, often intimate account of his creative journey. -- San Francisco Chronicle
Intelligent and revealing. -- Financial Times
May be the closest we will come to an autobiography of one of the greatest composers and improvisers in jazz. -- The New York Times
Mercer untangles Shorter's web of metaphysics, historic films and music making, and reties them all together for an engrossing narrative. -- Downbeat
Mercer untangles Shorter's web of metaphysics, historic films and music making, and reties them all together for an engrossing narrative. -- Billboard
Mercer's book is pleasurable and empathetic, essential for anyone who wants to get closer to this inscrutable genius. -- The New Republic
[A]n elegant, questing biography into the mindset of the great jazz sax man.... -- Kirkus Reviews
[I]t's impossible to imagine a book that would give any better understanding of this enigmatic man. -- Los Angeles Times
[a] well-told, thoroughly researched, and ultimately inspiring story of a jazz giant. -- Jazziz
a compelling and fascinating story, told with grace and candor. -- Sunday Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer
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Top Customer Reviews
The coverage of Shorter's early years, and his obsession with movies (especially The Red Shoes), and with the children's novel The Water Babies, was quite revealing. I hadn't fully realized the extent of his early gifts in the visual arts, and the impact this has had on his playing and compositions.
Shorter's rapid rise to fame in the 50's and 60's receives excellent coverage, especially his association with Art Blakey and Miles Davis. There are priceless anecdotes that I had not heard before, but I'll leave those for the reader to discover.
I was also fascinated by the discussion of the Weather Report years. It was interesting to learn the working dynamics of that group, and the motivations behind Shorter's long association with it.
The latter third of the book (and of Shorter's life) is dominated by the seriousness of his devotion to Buddhist practice, and this influence this has had on his life and work. It seems that through this practice, he has achieved an inner sense of peace, which is evident in his music in the past decade or so.
Like a previous reviewer, I would have appreciated more detailed coverage of the classic Blue Note sessions like Speak No Evil & Adam's Apple, which recieve only passing mention. However, the rest of the narrative is so well constructed that this is a minor flaw, and the overall effort still merits 5 stars. It's the most engaging jazz bio that I've read in a long time.