After over fifty years as a musician, composer and educator Lee Shaw remains active and in demand. While never the most prolific recording artist, she continues to record in her 80s, and 2011 may well be one of her busiest years, with two albums in quick succession. Together Again: Live At The Egg (Artists Recording Collective) featured Shaw and John Medeski, her former pupil. Live At The Art Gallery Reutlingen comes from three concerts recorded at this German venue in mid-2009 with her regular rhythm sectiondrummer Jeff "Siege" Seigel and bassist Rich Syracuseand two guest saxophonists.
The first four tracks feature the Trio with the richly-toned baritone sax of Michael Lutzeier, on three standards and a Lutzeier original, the funky, good-time, "Music 4 Food," which ends with an appreciative laugh from Shaw. Lutzeier's playing on Johnny Green's "Body and Soul" has a quiet majesty to it, demonstrating his command of the instrument as he captures the tune's inherent beauty. Tenor saxophonist Johannes Enders guests on three tunes, including Shaw's lovely "Tears." Enders is a subtler player than Lutzeier, less forceful and with a gentler, softer tone.
Seigel and Syracuse are spot-on throughout: energetic, focused and sympathetic rhythm playing that adds drive and depth to the music. Shaw has the great ability to support the saxophonists with precision, never overplaying or distracting, while her own lead work is thoughtful and flowing. Her solo performance, Leonard Bernstein's "Lonely Town," shows her mastery of light and shade.
Live At The Art Gallery Reutlingen is much looser than Together Again: Live At The Egg; the performances not quite matching the quality of the Medeski set, and the sound quality troubled by occasional balance problems. But this is still a worthwhile release, as the technical issues are more than compensated for by the talent and joy of the musicians. Their delight in playing together is readily transmitted across these tunes.
Falling in Love Again; Music 4 Food; Body and Soul; It's Alright With Me; Tears; Turnaround; Lonely Town; Stella By Starlight.
Lee Shaw: piano; Rich Syracuse: bass; Jeff "Siege" Siegel: drums; Johannes Enders: tenor saxophone (5, 6, 8); Michael Lutzeier: baritone saxophone (1-4).
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