Woody Shaw: Live Volume Four

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Woody Shaw: Live Volume Four Live Volume Four continues HighNote's ongoing series of live recordings from Todd Barkan's Keystone Korner club from the late '70s and early '80s. While trumpeter Woody Shaw never received the accolades he was due during his relatively short life—he died in '89 at the age of 44—these live recordings paint a picture of an innovator who simply was not fully appreciated.

Given the plethora of players informed by the late Miles Davis, Shaw's influence may not be as acute, but it's there nonetheless. His playing is more vivacious than Davis', an outgrowth of Freddy Hubbard's hard bop style that reveals an ability to navigate more avant-garde territory with artists like woodwind multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy and pianist Andrew Hill. Shaw demonstrates a more passionate stance, as opposed to Miles' overt melancholy. He was also less affected by lifestyle; while he had problems of his own, his abilities never appeared compromised, as Miles' most certainly were at various points in his career.

Live Volume Four is specifically aimed at emulating the kind of late night set that one might have experienced with Shaw at this point in time. Largely comprised of standards, its generally more relaxed vibe is only disturbed once, by Shaw's own fiery original "Opec, which is hot enough to break the audience's sense of lull and security. Shaw's quintet, which includes trombonist Steve Turré—surely one of his most sympathetic foils in his latter years—perennially underrated pianist Larry Willis, bassist Stafford James, and drummer Victor Lewis, attacks Shaw's composition as if they were coming out of the gate at the start of the evening, as opposed to winding down at the end.

Elsewhere the ambience is that of a group of racers cooling down after a long run. Ranging from the mid-tempo "When Lights are Low to the gently Latin-inflected "The Time is Right and the closer, a relaxed version of "Bye Bye Blackbird, Shaw's in strong voice. Even when the mood is more low-key, Shaw's bright choice of notes and keen tone keep things light and deft. Turré, like Shaw, tends to be outgoing—the slightest bit brash, yet completely in keeping with the easygoing amble of the set. Willis, James and Lewis provide intuitive accompaniment; even though the set is more a simmer than a boil, there's no lack of spark.

As with other releases featuring Barkan's recordings—including recent Mosaic Select releases by Dexter Gordon and Dave Liebman—the recording quality is less than perfect. Because of a board mix in a relatively small room, the drums are a little lower than one might hope for, and there are brief periods of clipping. But the performances far outweigh any minor quibbles about sound. Barring the drum level, everything is clear, and James' bass in particular feels surprisingly full-bodied.

Live Volume Four continues to provide evidence that Shaw's importance, sixteen years after his untimely death, is still being felt.

Visit Woody Shaw on the web.

Track Listing: When Lights are Low; The Time is Right; It Could Happen to You; Opec; Bye Bye Blackbird.

Personnel: Woody Shaw (trumpet, flugelhorn); Steve Turré (trombone); Larry Willis (piano); Stafford James (bass); Victor Lewis (drums).

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: HighNote Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


More Articles

Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Love Dance CD/LP/Track Review Love Dance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Honest Woman CD/LP/Track Review Honest Woman
by James Nadal
Published: February 20, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "Carrera Quinta Big Band" CD/LP/Track Review Carrera Quinta Big Band
by Edward Blanco
Published: April 26, 2016
Read "Closer Than Before" CD/LP/Track Review Closer Than Before
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 14, 2016
Read "Buoyancy" CD/LP/Track Review Buoyancy
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 29, 2016
Read "OWT" CD/LP/Track Review OWT
by John Sharpe
Published: September 18, 2016
Read "The Beast" CD/LP/Track Review The Beast
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 20, 2016
Read "Repeater" CD/LP/Track Review Repeater
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 5, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!