The Lost Shorter: Trumpeter Alan Shorter

Known if at all as the older, weirder brother of saxophonist Wayne Shorter of Miles Davis and Weather Report fame, trumpeter Alan Shorter (1932-1988) was part of the Free Jazz movement in the United States and France, who recorded little and died in obscurity. Point of Departure’s David Grundy’s exhaustively researched essay is an attempt to provide a biography. Unlike his brother, who first played Hard Bop with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Alan Shorter was fully committed to new music. His mid-1960s New York tenure featured recordings with saxophonists Archie Shepp and Marion Brown and pianist Dave Burrell among others, and even a solo LP featuring tenor saxophonist Gato Barbieri. But criticism of his so-called strained technique followed him then and during the six years after 1968 he spent in France.  While he recorded his second – and final – leadership disc there alongside tenor saxophonist Gary Windo, as well as LP sideman appearances with Shepp, bassist Alan Silva and pianist Francois Tusques, his on-stage behaviour described as either “militant” or “suicidal” led him back to the US. Although he never to played professionally again, a 1990s interview suggested that a cache of his novels, plays and other manuscripts exists and could be published.