Like his former boss, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter has squeezed a remarkably protean resume from his three-decade career. With Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in the early 60s he established himself as a fresh voice on the tenor saxophone and an exciting, sometimes brilliant writer of hard-bop tunes. With Davis, his compositional skills deepened and darkened–marking Shorter as perhaps the most important jazz composer since Thelonious Monk–while his improvisational abilities attained something approaching legend. And as Davis shifted toward electronics, Shorter and Joe Zawinul branched off to form Weather Report: the band of the 70s, and much of the 80s, too. (Along the way, he brought a unique suppleness and conciseness to the soprano saxophone as well.) Is Shorter still among the finest improvising saxophonists? When he cuts loose–which he has done with decreasing frequency on records and in later gigs with Weather Report–it would appear that he is, bringing a cryptic mystery to his often elliptical songs and solos. His quartet, which in past appearances has proved unequal to Shorter’s own musical wisdom, has been strengthened by the recruitment of keyboardist Gil Goldstein. Tonight through Sunday, George’s, 230 W. Kinzie; 644-2290.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Chris Cuffaro.