JJ 11/82: Woody Shaw – Master Of The Art

Forty years ago Peter Vacher was pleased to see a young player hewing to the values of hard bop rather than fusion. First published Jazz Journal November 1982

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Woody Shaw and guitarist Harry Leahy in 1978. Photo by Tom Marcello

In a brief interview included at the close of side two, Shaw refers to the high level of creativity in evidence on this album. For once, that’s no idle boast since this live recording cap­tures the trumpeter and his cohorts in uplifting form.

Shaw’s style is really a synthesis of mid-period Miles and current Hubbard, the stance exploratory while always retaining coherence. His finest moments come on Mis­terioso where his lengthy solo is a stunning tour de force, varied in dynamic terms, full of stabs, flurries and rests, the whole thing beauti­fully sustained.

He’s also arresting on Diane, taking the theme on flugelhorn before moving into a spirited examination of this old song. Hutcherson’s presence is a bonus, his card-shuffling facility leading to a series of extraordinary virtuoso solo passages, harmonically complex and never merely percus­sive.

The instrumentation allows for attractive voicings, with Turre a trombonist to watch. His perform­ance, along with that of the rhythm team, emphasises that many young players are still attracted to the land­scape of post-bop jazz rather than to the arid wastes of fusion. Recommended.

Discography
400 Years Ago Tomorow; Diane (20.55) – Misterioso; Sweet Love Of Mine; Woody Shaw Interview (29.45)
Woody Shaw (t/flh); Steve Turre (tb); Bobby Hutcherson (vib); Mulgrew Miller (p); Stafford James (b); Tony Reedus (d). The Jazz Forum, New York City, February 25, 1982.
(Elektra Musician MUS K 52402)