JJ 06/84: Woody Shaw – Night Music

Forty years ago Brian Davis found Shaw's music 'a satisfying and natu­ral progression from earlier and more rigid bop or post-bop forms'. First published in Jazz Journal June 1984


This album is the second half of the live date by Shaw’s regular quintet of the time, plus one (Hutcherson), the first portion being on EM 60131 (see November ’82 issue for review). This is group music of a highly intelli­gent calibre, but with loads of solo space balanced by equal attention from the rhythm team to background figures, vamps and other on-the-spot devices.

Each piece has a different feel, even though both Orange Cres­cent and the much faster Apex are in minor keys, modal, and have a Latin vamp behind the themes. Crescent has an unusual construction similar in pattern to Mingus’s Tijuana Gift Shop with its movement in and out of straight 4/4 and a Latin based vamp. This follows through be­hind each soloist, Turre being first off. Another of the younger breed with so much to say and the technique to say it but with a warm burry tone giving life to everything he says; on reflection not unlike Knepper in Gift Shop.

Apex, with a passing resembl­ance in its last measures to Giant Steps, also slides imperceptibly in and out of 4/4 and Latin, swings incredibly and has an ex­citing coda where Turre and Shaw engage in some remark­able counterpoint.

Shaw, a senior member of the third wave in the lineage of mod­ern jazz trumpeters, is a model of calmly collected invention at all speeds, this experience showing to the full in the jet-like tempo of Kill A Brick where we are spared the ‘look-Ma-no-hands’ clever­ness of some more recent phe­nomena. Turre is JJ-ing here with the best, but with that added warmth. Hutcherson positively flies but is not served too well from the miking which favours the rhythm section – and what a section! The drive here and be­hind the following Tynerish solo by the excellent Miller is at fever level!

In fact, as implied above, it is the wonderfully open-ended rhythmic base with Miller filling in all the holes, Stafford James’s beautiful bass playing as a cen­tral pivot (he has a peach of a solo of rounded perfection in the laid-back slow grooving All The Things), and the constant restless surge of drummer Reedus who as often implies the beat as states it and is a master of variegated cymbal patterns, accents and fills – that accounts for more than half this album’s success.

An LP of modern mainstream jazz which at no time goes out­side but is a satisfying and natu­ral progression from earlier and more rigid bop or post-bop forms.

Orange Crescent; To Kill A Brick (23.03) – Apex; All The Things You Are (23.48)
Woody Shaw (t); Steve Turre (tb); Bobby Hutcherson (vib); Mulgrew Miller (p); Staf­ford James (b); Tony Reedus (d). Live, Jazz Forum NYC, 25 February 1982.
(Elektra Musician EM 60299)