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Footprints: The Life and Work of Wayne Shorter

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  190 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter has not only left his footprints on our musical terrain, he has created a body of work that is a monument to artistic imagination. Throughout Shorter's extraordinary fifty-year career, his compositions have helped define the sounds of each distinct era in the history of jazz.

Filled with musical analysis by Mercer, enlivened by Shorter
Paperback, 318 pages
Published March 1st 2007 by Tarcherperigee (first published December 29th 2004)
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4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  190 ratings  ·  15 reviews

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Jan 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Wayne Shorter is out there. And in a good way. This very involved, very intensely researched biography was a rare page-turner. Even better if you have a collection of his music to listen to while you read.
Jan 03, 2011 rated it liked it
hmmm, i don't know, i never really felt like the writer understood her subject. the opening 40 pages offered some insights on this mad genius in the context of his formative years and musical experiences, but once wayne joins blakey's band, the book sets up this typical sequence of who played with whom, etc. etc.

if you've read miles davis' autobiography, you are privy to a good deal more information on that period than is offered herein, but there is a reprinting of the letter that wayne shorte
Aug 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, music
This is a really cool book. Mercer does a great job of capturing Shorter's quirky personality. And his life is a history of jazz, so you get all the cool stories about Art Blakey, Miles, and Weather Report. Very inspiring.
Diane Haines
Jun 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: jazz lovers
Shelves: favorites
I read this while I was working at IMN (Wayne Shorter's booking agency) and befriended the author (Michelle Mercer). Wayne Shorter is such an amazing person, so this book is great :)
Deborah J.
Dec 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It's one of the most inspiring biographies I've ever read. Wayne is a very unusual character and often what he answers in interviews is quite difficult to understand, due to his love of (unconsciously) using Koans, metaphors, and parables.
This book allows you to get to the heart of that and also to have some insight of his creative process, which turns out to be the gift that the book gives to the reader.
Kudos to the author, Michelle Mercer, for making this book more than a collection of stories
Randall Jackson
May 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The book was enjoyable. Wayne Shorter is a living legend. Through the years I'd known Mr Shorter through the works of Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock. Also I was familiar with Mr Shorter through his group 'Weather Report' as well as some of his earlier classics. I'd played little attention to what Shorter was doing with the music. It's my opinion that fans, after reading this biography will have gained a better understanding and appreciation of not only Wayne's music but of Jazz music ( or any mu ...more
Mar 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, music
Wayne Shorter is one of the greatest innovators in the music that is broadly defined as jazz. He is a most influential saxophonist whose tenor playing builds upon the foundations laid by earlier masters from Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young to Coltrane. On soprano, he was the foremost pioneer since the late 1960s. Most importantly, he is an extraordinary composer with an amazing breadth of knowledge and influences from Western classical to Brazilian music. Born in 1933, Shorter is also one of th ...more
Robert S
Nov 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Respectable read about a jazz great.

It is strange though to read a biography about the "life and work" of an artist who has continued to perform over ten years after the book was published, including creating the fantastic 2013 album Without a Net.
Lester O'garro
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Jun 10, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've recently become fascinated by the music of Weather Report, particularly its Jaco Pastorius incarnation. And I mostly read this book because I wanted to know Shorter's take on Jaco Pastorius, seeing how unique Jaco was and how problematic he became over time. Shorter doesn't say much about Jaco, though this silence on Shorter's part is not troubling. The book reveals Shorter as being more interested in knowing when to speak and when to be silent, which amounts to knowing how to shape space v ...more
The reviews on Amazon aren't good but it was a good read. Mercer writes well. It doesn't particularly seek to be objective. Shorter cooperated and wrote the preface (Herbie Hancock handled the forward.) It's an interesting text on which to reflect on this extended conversation of black quirkiness and/or black nerds. I recoiled at some of her commentary but generally found it to be a good read.
Nov 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
An intimate look into the mind of a true genius. Wayne Shorter known to some as "sphinx" for his seeming "unknowability" is richly brought to life in this book. Shorter is a genius who thinks more profoundly and more deeply than most humans and composes music at an astounding rate. A magnificent book about an abundantly productive and amazing mind.
Apr 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
The title is true. Michelle Mercer balances Wayne Shorter's music and life. A beautiful portrait of each and their relationship. Wayne Shorter is such an amazing musician and person. I knew the first before I read Footprints. Footprints reinforced the first for me and revealed the second.
Rob the Obscure
Sep 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wishlist
A well written biography on one of the most important jazz musicians of our time. If you are interested in jazz, or in the music of Wayne Shorter, this book is indispensable.
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In addition to producing regular essays and reports for National Public Radio, Michelle is the author of Footprints: The Life and Work of Wayne Shorter (Penguin) and Will You Take Me As I Am (Simon & Schuster). Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Village Voice and numerous magazines. She has been awarded artist residencies by the city of Kristiansand, Norway, t ...more