Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Woody Shaw - The Complete Columbia Album Collection (Columbia/Legacy, 2012)

Trumpeter and composer Woody Shaw led a star-crossed career, beginning strikingly, playing with the likes of Eric Dolphy, Larry Young and Art Blakey while still a young man in the 1960's. During the early to mid 1970's he was something of a journeyman, while releasing some excellent albums on the Muse label. Things began looking up in the late 70's when Shaw joined Dexter Gordon's band during the saxophonist's triumphant return to America. Shaw was offered a contract with Columbia Records in this period, and he used it to reach his peak, particularly on the album Rosewood which garnered several awards for a program of all original compositions written by members of the band. Particularly memorable are the Roland Kirk tribute "Rahsaan's Run" and "Theme for Maxine" which would become a set closer for their live performances. The live tracks on Stepping Stones and Stepping Stones Bonus are particularly impressive, taking the raw material of hard-bop to an explosive new level. "Escape Velocity" is indicative of the original album, focusing once again on compositions by the band members, in this case muscular up-tempo work, while the Bonus Tracks discs takes a look at their lengthy exploration of standards including "Days of Wine and Roses," "Green Dolphin Street" and the Miles Davis song "Solar." Woody III opens with a three-part suite dedicated to his son, while For Sure! adds a string section and vocals to some tracks. This is a well done compilation, collecting Shaw's Columbia albums in LP replica sleeves, with a nice booklet included that has essays, discographies and photos. Despite his formidable talent, Woody Shaw never got quite the respect he deserved, overshadowed by powerhouses like Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard and upstarts like Wynton Marsalis. But this collection makes a fine case for his inclusion in the jazz trumpet pantheon. The Complete Woody Shaw Columbia Albums Collection -

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