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Jazz legend Wayne Shorter has died at 89 in Los Angeles

(SOUNDBITE OF WAYNE SHORTER'S "NEFERTITI")

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

One of the most revered saxophone players in jazz has died. Wayne Shorter started playing the sax in New Jersey in the 1950s, when he earned the nickname The Newark Flash.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

What a nickname - The Newark Flash. After he began his saxophone career, he had a little diversion, went to the Army for a few years, then came back and got his first taste of national attention as the music director for Art Blakey's band The Jazz Messengers.

FADEL: Then Miles Davis called on him to compose songs that became jazz standards.

(SOUNDBITE OF WAYNE SHORTER'S "NEFERTITI")

INSKEEP: Wayne Shorter once told NPR that he and Miles Davis never rehearsed.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

WAYNE SHORTER: The six years I was with Miles, we never talked about music. We were actually playing music as we were talking. When we talked on the phone, Miles would say, we're going to record next week. I had a book that I wrote music in, and he said, bring the book. When we got in the studio, there's a point at which we played like that - (vocalizing) - like that. It just came out.

(SOUNDBITE OF WAYNE SHORTER'S "E.S.P.")

FADEL: Shorter played with Davis through his electric phase and then built on that sound by forming the influential jazz fusion band Weather Report.

(SOUNDBITE OF JOE ZAWINUL'S "BIRDLAND")

INSKEEP: If there's an award for a jazz musician, Wayne Shorter won it - Kennedy Center Honors, NEA Jazz Master. And at the end of a career that began in the '50s, as we said, he received his 12th Grammy Award just last month, shortly before his death at the age of 89.

FADEL: Wow. His friend and former bandmate Herbie Hancock says Shorter left us with courage in his heart, love and compassion for all.

(SOUNDBITE OF WAYNE SHORTER'S "FOOTPRINTS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.