Kennedy Center Honors Jazz Saxophonist, Composer, and Comic Writer Wayne Shorter

Cover art for Wayne Shorter’s “Emanon”

The Kennedy Center has named its 2018 honorees. This year’s recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors include country singer Reba McEntire, composer Philip Glass, Cher, and the creative team behind the musical Hamilton.

One stood out and has a connection to the comic industry, jazz saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter. Shorter is a progenitor of jazz fusion and collaborated with Miles Davis, and he’s also written comic books too.

When Shorter was 15 he wrote and illustrated his own comic book with a ballpoint pen, that was 1949. Since then, he’s a 10-time Grammy winner and a highly regarded composer in modern jazz. Through that success in music Shorter held on to his teenage love of superheroes, sci-fi, and comics. His new release, Emanon, which comes out August 24th, includes an original graphic novel.

The graphic novel, co-written with Monica Sly and featuring art by Randy Duburke, is a cosmic-heroic odyssey. There just so happens to also be three discs of new music.

That music is by the Warner Shorter Quartet which features Shorter on soprano and tenor saxophones, Danilo Pérez on piano, John Patitucci on bass and Brian Blade on drums. Disc one also features the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, a 34-piece ensemble, performing a suite composed and arranged by Shorter.

That suite has four movements, “Pegasus,” “Prometheus Unbound,” “Lotus,” and “The Three Marias,” each with their own theme in the graphic novel. It draws inspiration from the concept of a multiverse and features a character names Emanon (No Name backwards) standing in for Shorter. The story alludes to dystopian oppression taking ideas from Shorter’s anchoring in Buddhist teachings.

This year’s ceremony will take place Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018 and will be broadcast on CBS December 26 at 8 p.m. ET.

wayne shorter

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