Sax on the Web Forum banner
1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
2,388 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I first heard trumpeter Woody Shaw on Dexter's Homecoming album -- I'd bought the record because, you know, it's Dexter Frikkin' Gordon dammit! -- and found myself going "Who the hell is this trumpet player?!?"

After that, I grabbed every recording of his I could find. I loved his playing. He's also influenced my compositional vocabulary: his tunes are beautifully constructed, fresh, unusual.

I wrote this tune a while back, an attempt to grab some of what I admire in Woody's compositional vibe and approach:

Theme for Woody Shaw

(Recorded a couple of weeks ago at the Central Park Grill in Buffalo, New York; my trusty TH&C alto, and my newly beloved stock-as-stock-can-be HR Berg 90/2M...)
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
2,388 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Nice Kelly. There's a really sweet conversation between Anthony Braxton and Woody's son on youtube. Woody Shaw was another of jazz's great tragic figures.
It's here. I hadn't seen that before; thanks for pointing it out. I don't have that recording. I'm hot and cold on Braxton: some of his stuff kills, but when he plays standards with a conventional rhythm section, like that stuff with Brubeck and Konitz, it's ... [biting my tongue] ... not my cup of tea.

I've always been surprised Woody Shaw didn't make as big a splash as Freddie. Shaw was the first guy I heard on any wind instrument doing that intricate stuff with fourths and pentatonics (McCoy was also doing that sort of stuff...) Shaw's sound is more compact (almost classical) compared to Freddie's; it's a great contrast. And, dammit: I love his writing!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,328 Posts
Kelly - that's some muscular alto playing. Beautiful sound, and if you don't mind the comparison your sound reminds me of Dick Oatts. There's a quality in the wail or cry there that I really dig.

Curious, do you play alto/tenor about 50/50, or more on one horn than the other? Your alto conception is very strong, I think...too bad the track fades, I would really like to have heard where that was going...

Shawn
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
2,388 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Kelly - that's some muscular alto playing. Beautiful sound, and if you don't mind the comparison your sound reminds me of Dick Oatts. There's a quality in the wail or cry there that I really dig.

Curious, do you play alto/tenor about 50/50, or more on one horn than the other? Your alto conception is very strong, I think...too bad the track fades, I would really like to have heard where that was going...
Thanks Shawn! I've been a lifelong tenor player, and took up alto a few years back. I only picked it up because I had so many beginning students on alto, and it seemed goofy and confusing to demo stuff on tenor for all these young alto players...

Almost at once the alto seemed to really work for me -- the sound just seemed to be cooking right off the bat -- and I think I've got something more special going on on alto than on tenor ... and as a guy who always considered himself exclusively a tenor player, that's been an odd but enjoyable place to find myself. (Playing alto has also improved my tenor playing, fer what it's worth...)

These days I gig about equally on both horns ... whenever it's one of my own gigs, I'll usually have both horns on the bandstand...
 

·
Forum Contributor 2008/Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
3,295 Posts
Woody enjoyed more success than you may realize. He was signed to a major label (Columbia), his album and song were Grammy nominations (Rosewood) and he recorded 3 records with Freddie Hubbard.

Many trumpet player friends were much bigger fans of Woody or equally to Freddie.

All in all. Woody Shaws recording are a testament to where jazz was going. His writing and playing are still fresh and inspiring today.

His comparative "lack" of success probably had to do more with his time in France (he was there for some time while Freddie was cutting records stateside). And after the tragic loss of Carter Jefferson his own touring band continued but seemed to lose some of it's momentum (they all still played in top form as one would expect). And of course he had his own demons to contend with.

Freddie's own reputation did not really start to suffer (to my knowledge) until around the time that Woddy died... makes you wonder. THey were close friends and I think it was harder on Freddie than maybe some people thought.

Either way, both have strong legacies. I like Woody's playing and writing a little more but I could listen to both ALL DAY LONG!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
33 Posts
Woody is one of my favorite trumpet players as well. I spent a few years studying with Nathan Davis, a tenor player who played with Woody in Europe. Davis says he was in part responsible for getting Woody over to Europe around the time Eric Dolphy passed away. Some of the stories I've heard about Woody are really amazing. Here is a transcription of a master class Wood Shaw gave at the University of Pittsburgh in 1977.

http://jasonsquinobal.com/blog/2011...-class-university-of-pittsburgh-jazz-seminar/
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
323 Posts
That was a great read on the Masterclass. I found it VERY interesting and dissapointing that someone like Woody sho stated that he wanted jazz to proliferate and become more popular and players to become more skilled - refused to give out the books he studied from or the technical excercises that he used in practice. Thanks to people like Jerry Coker who have tried to study and glean pracitical elements of jazz to give to developing players who don't get to learn jazz on the road.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
33 Posts
Yeah, it is interesting. I think it was not all that uncommon for some musicians, those who were extremely popular and thought of as innovative, to keep some of the exercises and techniques they developed on their own a secret as a way to keep their creative edge. I know some trumpet players used to perform with a handkerchief over their hand so people couldn't see their fingers when they played. I think that mentality has changed somewhat nowadays. I see a lot more innovative musicians making their exercises and improvisational techniques accessible to students. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but I think it can be a little nerve racking to hear some of your own vocabulary played back at you at a convincingly high level by students. I know teachers at NEC who play gigs on the weekend and hear their students transcribing the solos they just got done playing. I think when you're a respected and influential player you're always looking over your shoulder but those who are most confident find it motivating and keep progressing.

I'm glad you like the master class article the audio, and musical demonstrations are awesome.
 

·
Forum Contributor 2008/Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
3,295 Posts
Woody's thing was firmly rooted in the pentatonics and in using fourth stack intervals. I remember studying with Frank Tiberi and he had me using diatonic fourth stacks like using diatonic thirds. I remember thinking that it sounded a lot like Woody when working on it. ;) Except not nearly as awesome of course.b Utilizing Diatonic fourth stacks creates a pentatonic scale that is offset from the major scale.

They would be (in C).

D-G-C
E-A-D
G-C-F
A-D-G
B-E-A

This creates a very motion oriented sound. And open.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
33 Posts
The University of Pittsburgh has a ton of great master class audio and video from their Annual Jazz Seminars dating back to 1972 I think. I spent three years going through them all and transferring many from analog tape to CD and from video to DVD. I know that the University is trying to make these things available to the public but there are all kinds of copy right issues they are trying to work out with their lawyers.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
323 Posts
So Ok, how would he use these fourth interval stacks - which btw---are the perfect start to the Star Trek Theme! They are open, but did he use them as small motifs in his solo's or as solo structures or what?

As far as pentatonics - did Woody use a lot of pentatonic scales for his improvisation?

Ever notice someone like David Sandborn used pentatonics almost every solo? It's fun and easy technically, but it does grow predictable in about....5 minutes?
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
Top