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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



Live Volume Four

High Note HCD 7139




  1. When Lights are Low
  2. The Time is Right
  3. It Could happen to You
  4. OPEC
  5. Bye Bye Blackbird

Woody Shaw – Trumpet & Flugelhorn

Steve Turre – Trombone

Larry Willis – Piano

Stafford James – Bass

Victor Lewis – Drums

Recorded live at Keystone Corner, San Francisco in the autumn of 1981

Woody Shaw’s amazing talents never got the attention they deserved, it seemed as though whatever he did the jazz world looked away. This could have been partly due to his amazing versatility, which enabled him to fit in with the likes of Eric Dolphy, just as easily as with the hard bop of the Horace Silver Band in partnership with Joe Henderson. Jazz fans tend to know the kind of music they like and tend to ignore the talents of the more versatile.

HighNote have once again saved some great music from the dusty shelves and this album demonstrates just what a remarkable talent Shaw was. His career was cut short by an appalling accident on the New York subway in 1989, when he was only 45 years old. On a personal note I prefer his playing to that of Miles Davis, both players have a wonderful melodic sense, but to me Shaw’s playing exhibits more warmth than that of Miles

Woody’s front line partner, and he had many, was trombonist Steve Turre who has developed into a very fine player. On this album he sounds a bit unsure of himself and is definitely in the "second fiddle" role here. The Rhythm section however is excellent Victor Lewis is a fine drummer and his partners Stafford James on bass and Larry Willis on piano combine together very well.

The tune selection is also interesting, When Lights are Low is a good standard composition and a fine jazz vehicle, Woody’s theme statement is muted and crisp and the solo that follows is a good example of his interesting approach. He stays reasonably near to the melody, but at the same time he takes many harmonic chances all of which come out well. The support from Larry Willis is quite Spartan, but adequate and his solo very inventive.

The Time is Right shows the group sound off to good effect and there are some nice bass lines from Stafford James.

It Could Happen to You is one of my favourite tunes, it comes from the ultra reliable Burke/Van Heusen stable, and once again it shows Woody at his most inventive.

OPEC is a Shaw original, which kicks off with drummer Victor Lewis setting a high tempo that never flags. It is an ideal example of Shaw’s versatility; this could easily be a VSOP track.

Bye Bye Blackbird is delivered with warmth and invention in a manner not dissimilar When Lights are Low.

If like me you have missed out on Woody Shaw in the past get this CD and prepare to be very pleasantly surprised!

Don Mather

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