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Watch Wayne Shorter Share Miles Davis’ Wisdom With Jon Batiste

Jazz legend talks long career, bebop spirit, improv life lessons with ‘Late Show’ bandleader

Stay Human and Late Show bandleader Jon Batiste spoke with jazz legend Wayne Shorter about making music in his eighties and life lessons from Miles Davis in the latest installment of his Late Show web series, “Batiste Sessions.”

During the interview, Shorter discussed how he started playing music relatively late, first picking up a clarinet at 16 and only realizing he wanted to pursue it as a career after acing a music-theory test in school. Now in his eighties, Shorter continues to perform and compose, and told Batiste that his curiosity hasn’t waned. “It doesn’t go away, it’s a sense of, kind of, a mission,” Shorter said. “There’s the [saying] about the two great things: being born and the other one is knowing why. Knowing why is all upon me now because I’m 82 – I better start getting to know why!”

Alongside his remarkable solo career, Shorter has also performed with Art Blakey, co-founded the fusion group Weather Report and notably served in Miles Davis’ so-called second great quintet. While speaking with Batiste about whether his intentions as a performer have changed over the years, Shorter passed along some pristine, far-out wisdom from Davis: “The intent now is to throw away and put away everything that was learned, the studied stuff,” Shorter said. “Miles is the only one who would talk like this. He’d say, ‘Hey Wayne, you ever feel like you wanna play like you don’t know how to play?'”

Shorter also spoke about bebop as a social movement and how its spirit continues to thrive, as well as the life lessons he’s picked up from improvising. “There’s no such thing as a mistake,” Shorter quipped. “And there’s no such thing as an interruption – it’s an opportunity. It helps to create trust, and how do we deal with the ego? I think our ego should serve us instead of us serving it.”

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