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Woody Shaw Live CD
1. To Kill a Brick (11:14) (sax. unknown)
2. Joshua C (18:23)
3. We'll Be Together Again (10:40)
4. OPEC (21:00)
5. Bonus: WS on Giant Steps (Mark Levine Nonet. 1975) (4:39)
Woody Shaw: Field Recordings of A Jazz Master
International Trumpet Guild (2012)
Woody Shaw, trumpet; Steve Turre, trombone; Mulgrew Miller, piano; Stafford James, bass; Tony Reedus, drums
The Mark Levine Nonet: Woody Shaw, Mark Isham, trumpets; Melvin Martin alto saxophone; Michael Morris, tenor saxophone; Wayne Wallace, trombone; Chuck Bennett, bass trombone; Mark Levine, piano; Tom Rutley, bass: Clarence Becton, drums
This CD was originally released by the International Trumpet Guild in 2012 for cultural and educational purposes associated with the advancement of the trumpet. The resale of this official product is based on preexisting stock acquired from ITG. The proceeds are used exclusively for the ongoing preservation of Woody Shaw's legacy.
CD length: 65:56 minutes
Anders Bergcrantz, jazz trumpet soloist:
"It's impossible to describe music and art in an equitable way… Jazz music is far too magical and abstract to really be described in words I think. Let me anyway just try to say a little about the music here. What's heard on this CD is music on such a high level. So deep, spiritual; profound, honest and beautiful. The whole band is extremely inspired and take the music to a heavenly level. My personal favorite here is OPEC, written by Woody. His solo, or actually solos, is beyond all limits. On this tune he plays in trance and he surely disappears totally into the music and I'm sure he felt totally free and elevated here. Ecstatic….Not only his solo but the whole band's performance is…..Great!! Undescribable! The state of the music and the way it's performed here is what this art form should be all about. Not only the tune OPEC but the whole album is simply just beautiful and you gotta do yourself a great favor and get it. Wow!!!"
Bud Gordon, trumpeter:
"This CD is amazing and you probably wouldn't be able to get something like this from a conventional record company. You can hear the music grow chorus by chorus."
"Got my copy and I implore others to do the same... a rare and indispensable piece of this man's valuable legacy."
"CD is excellent! Thanks for offering it!"
"I'm really enjoying this cd! Highly recommended!!"
ESSAYS AND INTERVIEWS:
by Dr. Tammy Kernodle
Associate Professor of Musicology
Miami University (Ohio)
WITHIN THE GENEOLOGY of post-bop trumpeters there are names that immediately come to mind—Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan, Fats Navarro, Miles Davis, and of course, Wynton Marsalis. But with the globalization of jazz music during the last thirty years and the proliferation of reissues, the contemporary scene has yet to fully acknowledge the artistry and legacy of Woody Shaw (1944–1989). Those who knew him use appellations such as “genius,” “extraordinarily talented,” or “the last innovator in the trumpet lineage.” It is clear that Shaw was viewed by his contemporaries as being significant in advancing the “straight ahead” aesthetic during the 60s, 70s, and into the 80s. Although he lived only forty-four years, Shaw’s creative activity chronicled the development of post-bop styles during the avant-garde movement of the 1960s and the jazz-rock and jazz-funk trends of the 1970s. As others made the transition to free jazz and the fusion styles, Shaw remained grounded in an acoustic aesthetic that reflected a range of musical influences.
The Shaw family migrated from rural North Carolina to the urban landscape of Newark, New Jersey, where a highly-developed music curriculum in the public schools and the collective support of his community and family led to the development of Shaw’s exceptional musical talent at a very early age. Endowed with the gifts of perfect pitch and a photographic memory, Shaw pushed beyond the conventional ideas of his time. His musical style reflected an acute knowledge of jazz’s early traditions, a developing understanding of the musical cultures of Africa and Asia, and clear conceptions of his own musical voice. At times he easily sounded as if in each solo he had fused the virtuosity and technical brilliance of Dizzy Gillespie with the warm, full-bodied soulful sound of Clifford Brown and harmonic complexity of John Coltrane. His use of polytonalities and choice of harmonic and tonal colors stretched beyond performance conventions associated with modal jazz and the free jazz aesthetic. His oeuvre, particularly the albums Rosewood, Woody III, and Stepping Stones reveal his conscious efforts to push the music beyond the set boundaries.
These recordings show Shaw unconstrained by the environment of the recording studio or the time limitations of recordings, free to explore all the musical possibilities that his intellect and creative acumen could muster.
Dr. Tammy Kernodle, Associate Professor of Musicology at Miami University (Ohio), graduated "cum laude" with a BM in choral music education and piano from Virginia State University in Petersburg, Virginia.Ms. Kernodle received a MA and PhD in Music History from The Ohio State University. Her scholarship has focused mainly on various genres of African American music, American music and jazz. She has served as the Scholar in Residence for the Women in Jazz Initiative at the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City, Missouri and has lectured extensively on the operas of William Grant Still, the life and religious compositions of jazz pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams. Her work has appeared in "Musical Quarterly," "American Music Research Journal," and a new anthology addressing the contributions of women to music entitled "Women's Voices across Musical Worlds." She is the author of the biography "Soul on Soul: The Life and Music of Mary Lou Williams,"(Northeastern University Press) which chronicles the life and music of Williams, whose career in jazz spans over six decades.
Associate Professor of Musicology at Miami University (Ohio)
Workin' with Woody: An Interview with Steve Turre
by Dr. Tom Erdmann
Director of the Elon University Symphony Orchestra
TE: What is jazz?
ST: To me, jazz comes from the blues and it has an element of the blues in it, but it also has an element of rhythm in that it makes you want to tap your feet. There is a beat, there is a swing. The jazz out there now deliberately does not want to reference the blues, and it’s a whole intellectual enterprise. They call the music I love “old.” They don’t reference the blues and they don’t want to swing, on purpose. To me that’s childish. It’s like disrespecting your grandparents. I’m not that old that I’m a grandparent but I certainly am a parent to a lot of other musicians.
TE: Honoring the past and those who came before is very important.
ST: Yes, but then you build on that and extend it like Coltrane did. There is nobody who is going to surpass that because he went all the way free with it. Yet at the same time he didn’t lose the connection.
TE: He was always grounded in the past, even when he was playing free.
TE: When and how did you first meet Woody Shaw?
ST: I was on the road with Ray Charles in 1972. He tours about 50 weeks out of the year. A couple of weeks before New Year’s we came back at the end of the tour, mid-December 1972. I was back in the (San Francisco) Bay Area, where I was raised. Woody had moved there and was playing there with Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, and free lancing around town. I had heard Woody had moved there. He was on the Horace Silver record, Cape Verdean Blues with J.J. Johnson, and I listened to that record a lot; it was one of my favorite records. Anyhow, Woody had a gig in town at the Keystone Korner, a club with a great jazz legacy, and I went down and saw him. It was fantastic, and I went back to the dressing room after the first set to say hello. He was a little distant at first, but I stayed for the next set. I may have sat in that first night, I don’t remember, but after the set we started talking and we clicked. I ended up giving him a ride home. We ended up sitting in the car outside his apartment, where he was staying with some friends, and we talked until the sun came up. We talked about music and everything. We just bonded. It happens every once-in-a-while where you just click; you feel like you know each other really well and that was what happened between him and me. He invited me to come down and play on some of his gigs, and I did. One time I was talking to him a few months later and he said, “Art Blakey called and was coming through town. He wants me to do the gig, but I want you to come down and meet Art because Art loves trombone and if he likes you, well, you never know.” So I went to the gig and Woody introduced me to Art. I said, “Hello Mr. Blakey, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I have your records,” and so on. Woody was prodding me because I was scared and kept saying to me, “Go on and ask him.” So I asked Art if I could play a tune with his band. Art said, “Yeah, get your horn, come on.” I played a tune, and Art asked me to keep playing, so I played the rest of the set. That happened to be the last set of the evening. After that Art said, “You wanna join the Jazz Messengers and go to New York?” I asked when. He said, “Now, pack your bags, make the rest of this week’s gigs and then we’re out of town. Also, you need to be in the studio tomorrow morning at 10 o’clock.” What? I was stunned. So that’s the record I’m on with Art, it’s called Andthenagin. They misspelled my name on the album jacket. I didn’t know any of the tunes or anything. Orrin Keepnews was there and said, “Who is this guy? What’s he doing here?” Art said, “He’s in the band now.” Orrin didn’t mess with Art. Even though he didn’t like the idea, I stayed and played. They wrote me some little ensemble parts to play. I didn’t know what was going on and was scared to death; I was just 23- or 24-years old.
TE: On your website you list Woody as your mentor. How did your musical relationship with Woody develop?
ST: He joined Art at that time as well and we left town in Art’s band together. We worked our way back to New York. We played a week in St. Louis, a week at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago, and so on. The band included Woody, Cedar Walton, and Carter Jefferson. We were all in the Jazz Messengers together. Then once we got to New York Woody played a few gigs and left, getting a record deal with Muse. Woody asked me to be on those records. I think Bill Hardman came in Art’s band to replace Woody. At that time Woody usually recorded with a quintet, usually working with a trumpet and tenor sax horn line, but when he had a little extra budget he’d add me and the quintet would become a sextet. Later Woody had the concert ensemble.
TE: On the first Muse recording where you were playing with Woody, The Moontrane, was the music learned on the road or were you doing it for the first time in the studio?
ST: Well, Woody had been playing that song and had recorded it with Larry Young on theUnity album. For the rest of us on that date we had a rehearsal or two, and then we went into the studio. We may have played some of those tunes on gigs. One of the reasons I call Woody my mentor, besides the fact I worked with Woody on that record, which was incredible, was that early on The Moontrane record was a milestone for me because it’s my first solo on a record. My first composition I ever had recorded was also on that record. Woody wanted me to write a tune and bring it, then I could start my publishing company at the same time. The tune we did was Sanyas.
TE: What a great break. How did it feel to have such an experienced jazz musician help you along?
ST: I was honored, but at the time I was so overwhelmed. You have to realize Woody was my personal friend. I didn’t realize, at the time, just how innovative he was. He was just a friend who played some stuff that certainly felt right. I could feel his blues and feel his swing, but I didn’t understand everything he was playing. I certainly wanted to learn what he was doing. His playing was in the tradition and not so far out that you couldn’t feel it. It was free but it wasn’t. We bonded on a lot of levels. You have to understand that when we got to New York that Dizzy and Miles were alive and Freddie Hubbard was still in prime form. All of these monsters were playing at this time and at that time Woody wasn’t on the level they were. I remember Woody asking me if I could drive him to a gig Dizzy had invited him to play, with Diz, at the Half Note. Woody said, “Could you give me a ride and a little moral support? You know, that’s Dizzy I’ll be playing with.” Woody’s my man, but I’ve worked live and recorded with Dizzy as well. Dizzy’s the baddest cat of all. Miles said the same thing; they all give it up for Dizzy. I have seen with my own eyes Dizzy wipe out Freddie, when Freddie was at his prime. Well that night Woody went up on stage and did his thing. Woody plays aggressively, but it’s not because he’s competing or trying to get you or to impress you; it doesn’t come from that. He just gives it everything he’s got, 2000 percent. That’s where the intensity comes from him. That night Dizzy came over to me and said, “Wow, Woody’s got his own thing. That’s wonderful.” Dizzy was really appreciating it. When Woody was done Dizzy went up, and Dizzy did not go up to try and get Woody, he just did his thing and the result was like father and son. You know Dizzy was playing crazy intervals long before anybody.
TE: Dizzy’s solo work on some of his big band recordings, which are usually neglected by listeners, shows Dizzy to be light years ahead of others.
ST: Absolutely. And listen to the break on Salt Peanuts. That was his, and it’s all fourths and it’s done superfast. (Turre sings the lick at tempo.) Dizzy was playing all of that stuff, but just in a different way. Woody was in awe of Dizzy. I can see why, but that didn’t diminish Woody in my eyes. Dizzy’s just the father.
TE: In talking about Woody moving forward with his ideas and harmonic concepts, I’ve always loved a quote of Woody’s when someone asked him how he was able to continue to move jazz concepts forward and find new harmonic ideas to explore. His answer was, “I go forward by looking back.”
ST: Yeah yeah.
TE: Can you elaborate on that and how you saw that manifest itself?
ST: Woody loved Louis Armstrong. Woody also loved Charlie Shavers believe it or not, from that period right after Louis. Woody liked Shavers maybe a little more than Roy Eldridge, even though Roy was a monster. It wasn’t that Woody didn’t like Roy, it was that Shavers’ harmonic and rhythmic phrasing was a little unorthodox and searching. Shavers was unpredictable, and Woody liked that. Of course Woody liked Booker Little too. I’ve gravitated to that a little as well, for the most part, and I also got that aspect in my playing from Rahsaan (Roland Kirk). Woody used to listen to records from those who were before him, especially those who had passed on and were not available anymore to see live. I’m the same way, I listen to the older records because if a musician is alive I’ll go see them play. A record is great, but it doesn’t compare with seeing someone live. You need to strengthen your foundation. The stronger your foundation the more you can reach out and grab at the air, and your feet are still on the ground, then you won’t float away.
TE: Let’s talk about the time you were with Woody’s quintet. What was it like to work with Woody live? Did you do little rehearsals, the two of you, to make sure your articulation and phrase feel was locked, or was that something that was accomplished through work on the bandstand?
ST: We rehearsed as a band. I was with Woody for almost four years, it was steady work and we were a touring band. During that time we played a lot, not like today. We played together for weeks. That’s how you get a band to come together, gel and grow; you play a week in Seattle, a week in San Francisco, a week in L.A., a week in Chicago, a week in New York, then you tour Europe, then you come back and play some more, then you tour to Japan, and so on. You’re constantly playing. Occasionally we’d get a little time off, but if we had more than a week off he’d have a rehearsal to reacquaint and keep the energy locked up the right way. We’d also rehearse when we got new tunes so we could learn the new material. Then sometimes Woody and I would stay after rehearsal to work on phrasing, and it was always me asking, “Woody, can we stay? How are you articulating this and how are you playing this because I’m having a hard time and I want to match you.” He’d show me.
TE: In learning the music, was he someone who wrote the music down or did he teach you the music by singing or playing your part?
ST: We had parts, but Woody was legally blind. He had retinitis pigmentosa and his vision was not very good. I'd bring the part in for a new song. When I was with the band, I usually wrote out his new tunes for him because of his vision problems. He would write them out sometimes, but it was very laborious for him. We would all bring in tunes; he encouraged it. He’d take off his glasses and hold the music about four inches from his face so he could see it. He’d look at it and you could see him fingering the notes on his trumpet. That was how he memorized the music. Then he’d have you count it off. I’m pretty sure he had a photographic memory because it was right on. Woody also had perfect pitch. We used to play a game after the gig; I have a vivid memory of playing the game one night after playing at Keystone Korner. Ray Drummond, the great bass player, was hanging out with us one night. We’re drinking some beers and talking. So we started to play the game. I went over to the piano and put my fingers on the keyboard in any old crazy way I could think off, then Woody would say what the notes were, asking if he wanted me to have him start listing the notes from the top or the bottom. From whatever direction, Woody never missed. Ray saw that and thought it was a trick. So Ray went over and played some crazy stuff with his elbow way up at the top of the keyboard. Woody asked if he should start at the top or the bottom. Me, I’m trained and hear from the bottom up. Ray thought he would get him and said, “From the top.” Woody decided to get Ray and deliberately called all the notes a half-step high. When Woody got down to the last note Ray was laughing and saying, “I got you.” Then Woody said, “Okay, now put everything down a half-step.” Oh was Ray mad. “You set me up,” Ray kept saying.
TE: The Rosewood album is such a famous recording. Did Columbia Records pay you extra rehearsal time to put those arrangements together and create that wonderful document?
ST: We had been playing some of the tunes on gigs, and we had a couple of good rehearsalsI don’t recall if we were paid for the rehearsals, but we were certainly paid for the record date. We didn’t rehearse in the studio, we just went in and did the date. We rehearsed before the studio date so that when we went into the studio we were ready to hit. Joe Henderson was on the record, kind of like a special guest. Woody used his group called "The Concert Ensemble." It was a little larger, but not a full big band.
TE: For you personally, what stands out most about Woody’s compositions?
ST: In a way, they are an extension of his playing, and vice versa. His playing is an extension of his compositions, as it should be; they are one and the same. They are a reflection of his musical personality. Woody could play ballads beautifully, as well as the blues, all of the standards, bebop and everything, but to me his real forte and uniqueness came in the area of modal playing and music of fourths and fifths. He could make lines out of open intervals. He showed me some of the patterns and things he did; how he built his sound. To try and execute it on trombone is a lot different than trying to execute it on trumpet; on the trombone you have to move the slide and tongue every note. He didn’t tongue every note but he tongued a lot of them. He was much more articulate than these trumpet players today. I know Lee Morgan was articulate, Dizzy was also, and Freddie could be but he was a little more legato. Woody’s music was very angular.
TE: We’re both brass players and so we know how important it is to practice regularly to keep your chops in shape. Did you ever hear him practice and were there some specific things he did you could share with the readers?
ST: Oh yeah, I definitely heard him practice. He practiced all the time. Now if we had a gig, and I do this too, we play hard on the gig. It’s not like Chet Baker where you sit on a chair with your legs crossed. We’re standing up and pouring with sweat. We hit hard. On those days you do some warmups. If you’ve only got one set or if you don’t have a gig that day, you practice more. To me a brass player is like a singer; living tissue is vibrating to produce a sound. If you play too much you get horse; your lips will swell up a little bit. You don’t want to overdo it. You have to save for the gig. He would practice the intervallic things, but he would practice them slow. I mean slow. Then you’d hear him on the gig and those things would be played at a breakneck speed. He would fly through that stuff. When I would go by his hotel room he was practicing slow.
TE: Did Woody influence you in your practicing?
ST: Yes, he showed me those patterns and I practice them to this day. I use them a little differently than Woody. I have to use them a little more melodically cause I can’t execute them as fast.
TE: Can you talk about the importance of the recordings of Woody’s band the ITG is going to release?
ST: You know those tracks Jim sent me are great, but they only allude to what was to come. I think the track Joshua C. is on the level, it’s really the top form of the band. TheOPEC he sent was a recording of that tune when we had first got ahold of it because it’s real free. The recording I have of it is much better; the band had been together for a while and we now knew what to do with it. It’s just a matter of playing a tune and letting it develop on its own. You have to let it develop. It takes you there.
TE: After a while tunes create their own life.
ST: Yes. Woody played beautiful ballads and those tunes always speak for themselves. The recording of Giant Steps is interesting, hearing him play that tune, but it’s not the band I was in. It wasn’t Woody’s rhythm section. He must have been sitting in somewhere. To me it doesn’t sound like a New York rhythm section. But it is interesting hearing him play those changes. He could play any changes. He never had a problem with changes. I have a tape of Woody sitting in with Elvin Jones. It’s very interesting because it’s Woody in a whole different light. Woody’s thing is also an extension of Coltrane, and Elvin played with Coltrane, so with Woody playing with Elvin you hear Woody’s phrasing change. We change with whomever we play with; it’s a collective music. I listen to whomever is talking to me musically and I have a conversation with them that depends on whom I talking to. There are different responses with different people because the conversation is different.
TE: One of the famous gigs that really put Woody on the map was when Dexter Gordon came back to the United States. Woody and Woody’s band was selected to reintroduce Dexter back to the States both on recordings and on tour. Did Woody ever talk about that specific tour?
ST: Dexter used to play with the band a lot when I was with the band. I played with Dexter a lot with Woody forming a sextet. We all had the greatest respect for Dexter. He had played with Louis Armstrong, everybody. Dexter had the biggest sound I ever heard on the tenor sax. He didn’t need a mic. It wasn’t harsh and in your face. It was just super resonant. He used to just amaze us all, just by playing one note. It was interesting because there is a difference between being quick and being fast. To me, a cheetah is fast, it builds up a head of steam and then when it opens up they get to 70 miles an hour and there is nothing in the animal kingdom that runs that fast, yet a mouse and a humming bird are quick, they dart around. We used to play a lot of fast tempos, but the contrast was interesting because Woody was quick, darting in and out of phrases playing those wide intervals. Dexter got such a big sound and he’d nail the fast tempos with no problem, but he played very melodically at those tempos because his sound was so big. He didn’t have to play a lot of stuff. When he wanted to he did. Every once in a while he’d open up and play a line that was killer. But J.J. Johnson was the same way, with a big sound. Neither of them had to play a lot of fast stuff if they didn’ t want to and it would still have as much meaning, or more. We would be amazed at that, how simple Dexter could play on an uptempo thing and make it sound so beautiful.
TE: As you have gone on and formed your own bands, has Woody influenced you in how you run your bands?
ST: Yes. I always put the music first, that’s the first criteria and I got that from Woody, and Art Blakey and Rahsaan as well. Everything else is under that. If you don’t feel like playing, if you’re not going to give 100 percent, go home. Woody used to say, “Don’t just make the gig.” Sometimes a guy would not give it up and give 100 percent. Woody would get snappy. “If you’re just going to make the gig, go home, I don’t want anyone here who is just going to make the gig. If you come here to play then come here to play.”
TE: In terms of your own playing you have created a wonderful unique style that is truly all your own. Did Woody do any molding that helped you in developing your style, or were you already on your way to that sound before you met Woody?
ST: Definitely during the three and a half to four years I was in his quintet, that was the period when I found my own voice. He encouraged me. He didn’t tell me where to go or direct me, but he gave me the freedom to explore and find it.
I have an example to illustrate this: We were playing The Moontrane at The Village Vanguard. At the end of the bridge there are those crazy changes that go down by a whole step. It was always a challenge for me to play those changes. On the other parts of that tune I could play some stuff, but when it came to that specific section I would have to slow down and be careful so as to make sure I could make all the changes, and not be B.S.ing. He’d play very melodically and simple on the changes that were more simple, but when he got to those hard changes he’d fly through it. I’d listen to him in astonishment as he’d play the most crazy fast lines. It was incredible. One night I went for something. I felt like I had really messed up, but I tried and really went for it. I didn’t care, I just went for it. After the solo, while Mulgrew Miller was taking his solo, Woody came over and whispered in my ear, “Remember that stuff you played coming out of the bridge on your second chorus?” I said, “What?” Then he sang back to me what I had played. He had photographic memory and to me what I had played was a mess. I said, “Oh yeah, that mess.” He answered, “I liked that.” I asked him if he really liked that, because I thought it was a mess. He said, “Yeah, because I had never heard anyone ever play that kind of thing on the trombone before. I don’t care if you struggle with it, just land on your feet. When you throw a cat up in the air they will land on their feet. If you get in a corner just resolve it and find your way out. It’s okay to search with me, go on and look for it, just find your way out. Make music out of it.” I said okay and started going for things more. He influenced me because every time he played he’d be going for things. Every time. He didn’t just play it safe or play something he knew that was going to work, every time he’d go for the moment. It was incredible. The fearlessness of his creativity, the energy and his determination had to be influential on me. It influenced Mulgrew too. Kenny Garrett as well, even though Kenny played with Miles after that.
TE: What are your ongoing thoughts about Woody?
ST: I think about Woody on the bandstand. Golly! Woo! Stuff like that. For me, that was one of the best bands I ever played with, and it was probably one of the highest points in my musical career, certainly in terms of my development it was the highest point of my early musical career. Though I have to say playing with Rahsaan, and Ray Charles, and Dizzy and McCoy Tyner also gave me some very high moments. But consistently over a period of time, and for my own development, nothing compares to playing with Woody. I think people are starting to wake up to him.
One of the reasons he may not be as popular as some other trumpeters is that his stuff is so difficult and advanced that you have to be a real advanced player yourself to even think about trying to play some of his music. It’s the same thing with Dizzy, in a way. I have a story to share about this. I was playing with Woody at Keystone Korner, and we were playing opposite Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers. Now Woody and I both played together with Art; that’s the real school there, that’s the cooking ground. At that time Art had Wynton Marsalis in the group, with Wynton being all of 18. He was fabulous for his age and trying to learn. During a break in the dressing room Wynton would have on headphones, studying and listening; he was serious. Wynton would say, “Steve, listen to this.” It would be Clifford Brown and it was great. Then Wynton would have me check out Freddie Hubbard when Freddie was killing. I asked Wynton why he didn’t listen to Dizzy. He said, “I leave that stuff alone because that stuff’s impossible to play.”
Cats don’t want to mess with that stuff. It isn’t easy to play as clean or on the same level as Clifford Brown but you can copy the lines and sort of get to it, but you can’t copy the lines Dizzy does. It takes some serious work and you have to put in some serious time in on your horn to just play anything close to Dizzy. Most people don’t want to work that hard. Miles was even more popular in a certain respect, but to play on the Kind Of Blue recording with the beauty and the timing and subtlety and nuance that he did, well, nobody else could do that, but you can transcribe and play that whole record, it’s executable. You won’t sound like Miles, but you could execute it and enjoy playing it. You might sound decent. But to play some of Woody’s stuff, or Dizzy’s stuff, shoot, you can’t do it.
You know Woody used to use a lot of different fingerings and I know he got some of those from Dizzy. I saw Dizzy showing those fingerings to Wallace Roney one time in a dressing room. A lot of those alternate fingerings revolve around keeping the middle finger down while you work the third valve a lot, but sometimes the first as well. This will give you different sounding scales. I don’t know what they were, but I saw Woody use those fingerings and they came from Dizzy.
TE: As you carry forth today, what part of Woody do you still carry within you?
ST: A lot. In a certain sense he’s with me every time I play. This is not just from an intervallic standpoint, but also from the certain way we used to focus and how we would go at the rhythm. We didn’t follow the rhythm section, we grabbed it by the horns and made rhythmic statements. Woody also played drums and a lot of what we did came from that. But he’s with me every time I play; most definitely.
ANALYSIS: MAKING WOODY SHAW WOODY SHAW
by Pat Harbison
Woody Shaw (1944-1989) came onto the jazz scene in the mid-1960s, a time in which jazz was in a period of rapid change, growth and experimentation. It was also a period during which the leading creators of jazz from virtually all the earlier styles and eras could still be heard performing live at or near top form, including such seminal figures as Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Earl Hines, Roy Eldridge and Dizzy Gillespie. Shaw’s playing and compositions directly or indirectly incorporate the influence of all of these masters.
In terms of stylistic experimentation, musical innovation and aesthetic controversy, the late 1950s represented a turning point in the evolution of jazz. There was a fracturing of widely held consensus regarding what “real” jazz was and, for the artists, what musical elements were or were not essential to creation of jazz. Woody Shaw, as much or more than any other trumpeter of his era, absorbed the traditions of jazz based on intimate knowledge gained by playing alongside his elders and also incorporated the innovations of the late 1950s and 1960s into a unique and immediately recognizable voice.
Like virtually all jazz musicians prior to the ascendancy of institutional jazz education, the young Woody Shaw learned his art by listening, emulating and serving apprenticeships with bands led by master musicians. Shaw was a member of the bands of Art Blakey, Horace Silver and Max Roach for substantial periods and also spent time with Bud Powell, Kenny Clarke, Eric Dolphy, Dexter Gordon and others. He was also influenced by his contemporaries and band mates including Larry Young, Chick Corea, Tyrone Washington and Joe Henderson.
Woody’s Role in the Evolution of Jazz Trumpet
Woody Shaw’s music and influence may be seen in context of the evolution of jazz trumpet. Influences on his trumpet style include Clifford Brown (1930-1956), Miles Davis (1926-1991), Kenny Dorham (1924-1972) and his immediate predecessors Lee Morgan (1938-1972), Booker Little (1938-1961) and Freddie Hubbard (1938-2008). In turn, Shaw had a profound impact on virtually every subsequent jazz trumpeter including Tim Hagans, Tom Harrell, Randy Brecker, Brian Lynch, John McNeil, Dave Douglas, Alex Sipiagin, Scott Wendholt, Ingrid Jensen, Sean Jones and many others. Wynton Marsalis, Terrance Blanchard and Chris Botti are among the influential players that studied with Shaw
When Shaw emerged on the international jazz scene in the early 1960s very few trumpeters were combining the traditional approaches of bebop and hard bop with innovations of the recent era. The leading creators of the new styles were mostly saxophonists and pianists. John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, Cecil Taylor, McCoy Tyner and others began to use different harmonic, rhythmic and structural concepts from those of hard bop. These included such musical elements as complex reharmonization, static harmony, modal harmony, pedal point and ostinato, atonality, polytonality, pantonality, intervallic playing, new kinds of scales and chords, free improvisation, group rubato, new approaches to musical form, etc. These innovations resulted in a tremendous increase in the technical demands on jazz players. Since the first creators of these new approaches were mostly saxophonists and pianists these new ways of playing were first conceived and demonstrated in terms that were friendlier to woodwind and keyboard technique. The level of required technical demand was raised to a point few if any hard bop brass players could reach.
Among trumpet players prior to Shaw, a few more open minded and well equipped bebop and hard bop trumpeters, particularly Kenny Dorham and Thad Jones (1923-1986), managed at times to successfully adapt their established approaches to the new music. Don Cherry (1936-1995) in his work with Ornette Coleman and as a bandleader himself had created a singular voice in the arena of avant-garde or so called free jazz. In the early 1960s Miles Davis was still playing his version of hard bop with his personal synthesis of newer innovations yet to come. Only Freddie Hubbard and Booker Little had begun to consistently find personal approaches rooted in hard bop integrated with the new music. Not coincidentally, Little and Hubbard (like Shaw) each possessed a very high level of trumpet technique.
Improvising over Hindemith. In addition to knowledge of the jazz tradition and contemporary jazz innovations, Shaw was fascinated with late 19th and 20th century “classical” music and intently studied the harmonic language and compositional approaches found in that music. Shaw was fascinated by the music of such composers as Bartok, Stravinsky, Messiaen and Hindemith. I spent a considerable amount of time with Shaw in the mid to late 1970s. At one point I recall that he was travelling with recordings of the piano accompaniments to several of the Hindemith Sonatas for the various instruments. During that period he made it a regular practice to improvise by ear using the Hindemith piano accompaniments as “play-alongs.” He was also the first person to suggest I read Hindemith’s The Craft of Musical Composition and Technique de mon langage musical by Messiaen. It is quite easy for me to hear the influence of these studies in the melodic and harmonic language of both his compositions and improvisations.
The basic elements of Shaw’s mature style are virtually all present by the time he recorded the seminal album Unity (Blue Note 97808) in 1965 under the leadership of fellow Newark, New Jersey native Larry Young on organ with collaborators Joe Henderson on tenor saxophone and Elvin Jones on drums. Half the compositions on the original album were by Shaw, including Beyond All Limits, Zoltan (dedicated to another 20th century European composer, Zoltan Kodaly) and The Moontrane.
By the time of the making of the field recordings presented on Woody Shaw: A Trumpet Legend Revisited (ITG-021), Shaw was musically mature as trumpeter, composer and bandleader, and was solidly established as a preeminent voice in contemporary acoustic jazz. The band on tracks one through four was his working group at the time. They were regularly traveling the world and the core of the group had been together for some time. This shows very clearly in the level of ease and familiarity his young colleagues (Steve Turre, Mulgrew Miller, Stafford James and Tony Reedus) display with both the musical materials and one another.
The Elements of Woody's Innovative Musical Style
Rhythm. Shaw’s music is rhythmically traditional in the sense that he rarely performed in meters other than 4/4, 6/8 or ¾. The underlying bass and drum parts and the basic forms of the tunes are consistently in a regular meter. However, the music is made more rhythmically complex by the superimposition over those simpler meters of irregular note groupings (5 and 7 note groupings for example), polyrhythmic effects and multimetric or polymeter. Superimposing polyrhythm over a regular ground meter is an approach that can be traced directly back to the African roots of jazz. In the 1940s bebop musicians began to make jazz rhythms more complex by increasing the layers of polyrhythm. By the mid-1960s John Coltrane’s Quartet (and his drummer Elvin Jones) and Miles Davis’s Quintet (with drummer Tony Williams) increased this polyrhythmic complexity to a tremendous degree. Shaw’s approach to jazz rhythm is a further extension of these innovations.
Harmony and melody. Harmonically and melodically, Shaw often incorporates sequence, polychords and bitonality, planing, interval based playing, pitch sets, pentatonic scales and modes of limited transposition such as the octatonic or diminished scales. Many of these musical elements are present in the music of Coltrane, Little, Wayne Shorter and others. Shaw found a personal way to integrate these devices and adapt them to the trumpet. In order to do so he developed a stunning ability to cleanly execute wide intervals, a phenomenal finger technique and the ability to articulate legato passages at a very rapid speed. Combine this with a rich dark sound and a personal approach to vibrato and inflection and you have a singular voice.
This CD’s Recordings
To Kill a Brick starts the present collection with that most enduring of all jazz vehicles, a 12-bar blues in the key of B-flat. It is enlightening to hear Shaw’s post-bop approach to the traditional blues context. Shaw and the entire band are burning on this one straight from the gate. The piece climaxes with the time honored practice of “chases”-all three wind instruments trading improvised passages as the group collectively builds in dynamics and intensity.
Joshua C is an original Shaw composition that demonstrates his unusual approach to form in composition. The piece has a number of scripted “hits” or predetermined figures in the accompaniment that occur at designated points between more open sections of improvisation. The harmonic language Shaw uses in both the composition and his solo uses a number of modern devices, including modal scales, polychords, bitonality and synthetic scales. By the way, a punning Miller quotes The Doors during his solo. See if you can catch it.
We’ll Be Together Again is a beautiful ballad that was originally a popular song from the mid-1940s. This recording gives us a wonderful opportunity to hear how Woody handles a standard ballad, making it his own. Shaw has rearranged the piece to better fit the overall approach and sound of his group. The tune is reharmonized in a way that lends itself to the style of this group, yet doesn’t weaken the lyrical nature of Carl Fischer’s beautiful melody. Moving contrapuntal inner voices are added to the accompaniment as are a pedal point and rhythmic hits during the melodic statement. The group implies double-time rhythm at points during Miller’s piano solo. When Shaw begins his improvisation the group commits fully to the double-time, raising the energy level. The group builds through a full chorus of trumpet improvisation. James takes a bass solo on the first half of the form and Shaw reenters at the bridge, the first portion still in the double-time, to recap the melody. Shaw improvises a brief cadenza before the final cadence.
OPEC is a treasure! Beginning with a drum solo by Reedus, this tune is what jazz musicians call a burnout tune. The melody is an excellent example of the unusual intervals in Shaw’s melodic language. Shaw and Turre execute the call-like melody in octaves. Shaw’s solo features most all of the identifying rhythmic, harmonic and melodic elements of his style and demonstrate the technically challenging nature of his musical conception. He uses the full range of his instrument effectively and dramatically. His melodic lines often contain very wide intervals, including long strings of intervals of a fourth or fifth. Miller’s accompaniment employs polychords and extensive use of planing. The harmonic language of Shaw’s improvised melodic lines makes use of sequence, pentatonic scales and modes of limited transposition. Sections of the performance are given over to free improvisation i.e. at the end of Turre’s trombone solo and again after Miller’s piano solo. Perhaps more than any other piece on this set, OPEC demonstrates Shaw’s synthesis of the jazz tradition and the innovations of the avant-garde.
Track five is a bonus and another treasure. Here we hear Shaw improvising over the changes to John Coltrane’s tour de force Giant Steps. Giant Steps is the best known of a group of pieces Coltrane wrote in the late 1950s as study pieces as he worked to master a challenging set of harmonic devices that focused on rapid modulation and third relationships between keys. It is a piece that Coltrane practiced extensively, recorded and (to the best of this writer's knowledge) never performed publicly. Nonetheless, the piece has served as both a study piece and a sort of “acid test” for jazz musicians ever since. The harmonic and melodic devices in Giant Steps are an integral part of Woody Shaw’s approach to improvising and composing. However, he never recorded the piece on a commercial album. Here is evidence of his command of the work’s inherent challenges. Beyond that, we hear mastery of those challenges to the degree that Shaw is free enough to be incredibly creative, particularly rhythmically, in spite of the piece’s harmonic obstacle course. It is interesting to compare this version to Freddie Hubbard’s playing on Giant Steps or his own composition, Dear John, which shares the same harmonic progression.
Pat Harbison is Professor of Music (Jazz Studies) at Indiana University in Bloomington. He is the author of many articles on jazz and trumpet, as well as several books, including Technical Studies for the Modern Trumpet and Twenty Authentic Bebop Solos (Aebersold). He is an active jazz clinician and has been a faculty member of Jamey Aebersold's Summer Jazz Workshops since 1976. Mr. Harbison is a Selmer/Bach Artist and a former faculty member of University of Cincinnati. His many recordings as a jazz trumpeter include a 1999 solo debut, After All. In addition to appearances as leader, his recording credits include the PsychoAcoustic Orchestra, the Blue Wisp Big Band, and David Baker's 21st Century Bebop Band.