Tune in to Jazz with Victor Cooper – weekdays from 6-9 a.m. MT – for Stories of Standards to hear our favorite versions of this song all week long presented by Rodney Franks starting Monday, February 25!


Stories of Standards is sponsored by ListenUp - If you love music, you’ll love ListenUp.


“Footprints” (1966), by Wayne Shorter, first appeared on his 1966 album “Adam’s Apple”. Although occasionally mistaken for a waltz, the melody alternates between simple and compound time (6 over 8 and 4 over 4), while drum rhythm goes from three-over-two to two-over-two. In this context the 4 over 4 beat is known as “tresillo” in Afro-Cuban music and correlates to the twelve-over-eight timing. “Footprints” incorporates what is possibly the first use of systemic, African-based cross-rhythm. While taking the form of a 12-bar C-minor blues, the melody is actually written in C-Dorian, using A-sharp rather than A-flat.


Wayne Shorter (25 August 1933-present) was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, where his father encouraged him to take up clarinet as a teenager; his older brother Alan played alto saxophone in high school and switched to trumpet in college. While in high school Wayne played with the Nat Phipps Band. After graduating from New York University with a degree in music education, Shorter served in the Army for two years, where he briefly played with Horace Silver. Shorter joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in 1959 and stayed with them for four years, during which time he became the band’s musical director. From 1964-1970 he was with Davis’s Second Great Quintet; Herbie Hancock said of him: “Wayne was one of the few people who brought music to Miles that didn’t get changed.”


Wayne played tenor saxophone exclusively until 1968, when he started incorporating soprano saxophone into his repertoire and, by the 1970s, had switched over to soprano. He formed the jazz fusion group “Weather Report” (1971-1986), which toured in 1988 with Carlos Santana. In 1989 Shorter played the saxophone solo on Don Henley’s song “The End of the Innocence”.


Wayne Shorter has received numerous awards and is the subject of a 2019 three-part biographical film “Wayne Shorter: Zero Gravity”. He was described by The New York Times in 2008 as “probably jazz’s greatest living small-group composer and a contender for greatest living improviser.”

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