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Lions Roar : July 2019
The familiar Buddhist symbol of the lotus gives one Emanon track its title and features in the graphic novel’s second act. “The blooming flower purifies the water around it,” Shorter explained to biographer Michelle Mercer. “Within the story, those workings of the lotus are being carried out through Emanon’s actions.” road to destruction, through addiction and alcohol and all kinds of stuff like that. It’s amazing.” Shorter’s had his share of similar struggles. “In the army,” Shorter says (he began his two years of service in 1958), “every weekend at someone’s house, we had parties. And when I got out and started working in New York, working in nightclubs, there was a lot of alcohol. You play and you go down to the bar and you buy everybody a drink. It’s like a big party all the time.” But Shorter’s drinking became more frequent, less social. A problem. Before beginning his Buddhist practice, “My attitude about life was, I have my own philosophy [Laughter]. I thought, I know where I’m going.” But Shorter would find a new philosophy and, with it, clarity. Drinking began to lose its power, and his prac- tice and creativity blossomed. “From that point,” he says, “I started to think about getting my own band.” He’d also, in 1977, become a collaborator of Joni Mitchell, after the two met through Weather Report’s phenomenal bassist, Jaco Pastorius. Starting work on Mitchell’s Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter LP, Mitchell and Shorter immediately impressed each other with their sophisticated yet free approach to music mak- ing. And they shared a worldview: “At twenty-one, I already was beginning to conceive of the concept that perhaps life is somewhat of an illusion,” Mitchell has said. “Which is kind of a Buddhist idea. Wayne and I are both Buddhists.” They would continue to work together, taking advantage of their easy rap- port through the release of Mitchell’s penultimate studio album, 2002’s Travelogue. For much of that time, Shorter’s dream of hav- ing his own band went unrealized. Having started Weather Report in 1970—and going on to cre- ate thirteen studio albums with them, including 1977’s megahit, Heavy Weather—Shorter parted ways with Zawinul in 1985. He would still tour, and record with Mitchell when the chance arose, but the eighties had brought with them some heavy losses: the death of Iska in 1983 after a grand mal seizure at age fourteen, and, in 1986, both the death of Shorter’s mother and his separation from Ana Maria Shorter—who would herself pass, along with their niece, in an airplane explosion ten years later. (Shorter later married Carolina Dos Santos, a IMAGECOURTESYOFUNIVERSALMUSICPHOTOBYCHRISTIANWEBER LION’S ROAR | JULY 2019 62