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Zwee Dot: “Endangered Species” by Wayne Shorter/Joseph Vitarelli

Updated: Jan 11, 2021

By Kelly Sill

In this month’s “Zwee Dot,” Kelly Sill shares his listening notes to the Wayne Shorter/Joseph Vitarelli composition “Endangered Species” from Shorter’s 1985 album, Atlantis.

“Endangered Species”

from the Wayne Shorter recording, Atlantis

1985, Columbia Records

Wayne Shorter – Soprano saxophone

Joseph Vitarelli – Synthesizer, keyboards

Michael Hoenig – Synthesizer programming

Larry Klein – Electric bass

Ralph Humphrey – Drums

Lenny Castro – Percussion

0:02 And the cut starts

0:04 Two chords, and into a groove, part funk, part Latin

0:10 Now a real funk groove

0:19 A new key

0:23 The bass line is really something

0:32 Somewhat of a melody, and that was abrupt

0:37 New chord progression, down thirds

0:43 And now they settle into a new groove

0:48 And now to one of the other keys

0:59 Wayne comes with a new melody, and a new harmony

1:23 This is a whole new section

1:37 He’s almost improvising

1:40 He actually is improvising

1:43 Back to one of the original vamps

1:57 Really syncopated figure

2:07 Still going

2:13 Wow, it’s still going

2:18 And now they settle into one of the original grooves

2:24 One of the original themes, but it’s moving around

2:38 There is the syncopated figure again

2:44 I think that they’ve reharmonized it

2:55 That’s a new melody

2:59 That sounds just like Wayne

3:14 Now he blows over a new set of changes

3:22 How beautiful!

3:28 And back to the original vamp

3:41 And the syncopated part again

3:37 Still going!

4:05 And vamping

4:12 Are they fading out?

4:21 They are

4:48 The genius of Wayne Shorter!

4:58 Another great cut!

The title, of course, refers to us.



Kelly Sill has been a mainstay of the Chicago jazz scene for more than 45 years. After receiving his bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he moved to Chicago. 

He has since performed and recorded with a vast array of jazz artists, including Art Blakey, Joe Henderson, Art Farmer, Eddie Jefferson, Clark Terry, Cedar Walton, Herb Ellis, Woody Shaw, Hank Jones, Freddie Hubbard, Kenny Burrell, Barney Kessel, Chris Potter, Ernie Watts, Bob Mintzer, Mel Torme, Anita O'Day, Janice Borla, Jack Mouse, Jackie McLean, Joey DeFrancesco, Donald Byrd, Bobby Watson, Eddie Harris, Scott Hamilton, Victor Lewis, Clifford Jordan, Bucky Pizzarelli, and many more. 

He has performed at the Chicago Jazz Festival, Ravinia Festival, the Elkhart Jazz Festival, the Red Sea Jazz Festival, the Thessaloniki Concert Hall in Greece, and Symphony Center (Orchestra Hall) in Chicago.

Kelly has served on the faculties of Northwestern University, Interlochen Arts Academy, Northeastern Illinois University, Lake Forest College, DePaul University, and Northern Illinois University. He currently teaches at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. For questions or comments please contact him at or visit his website at

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