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Jose Reyes

Album Feature: “Unity”



The latest album that will be featured here on Jazz Con Class is “Unity.” Larry Young was another great organist that was overshadowed by the more popular ones. Here in this album he teams up with a an all-star lineup, great music! This album will be airing for a least one week and will be placed in the Avant-Garde playlist afterwards. Check the schedule link for exact times:

On Unity, jazz organist Larry Young began to display some of the angular drive that made him a natural for the jazz-rock explosion to come barely four years later. While about as far from the groove jazz of Jimmy Smith as you could get, Young hadn’t made the complete leap into freeform jazz-rock either. Here he finds himself in very distinguished company: drummer Elvin Jones, trumpeter Woody Shaw, and saxman Joe Henderson. Young was clearly taken by the explorations of saxophonists Coleman and Coltrane, as well as the tonal expressionism put in place by Sonny Rollins and the hard-edged modal music of Miles Davis and his young quintet. But the sound here is all Young: the rhythmic thrusting pulses shoved up against Henderson and Shaw as the framework for a melody that never actually emerges (“Zoltan” — one of three Shaw tunes here), the skipping chords he uses to supplant the harmony in “Monk’s Dream,” and also the reiterating of front-line phrases a half step behind the beat to create an echo effect and leave a tonal trace on the soloists as they emerge into the tunes (Henderson’s “If” and Shaw’s “The Moontrane”)….Learn More


I discovered this album while searching for trumpeter Woody Shaw:

Woody Shaw is a trumpeter, cornetist, flugelhornist, composer, arranger, bandleader, and eclectic original. “I consider myself from the straight-ahead school of jazz,” says Woody, and if you’ve heard him in action, you know what he’s talking about. Avant-gardists like Eric Dolphy (with whom he worked) and John Coltrane have made their mark on Shaw’s distinctive style, but he has not forgotten his debt to the early modern masters like Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. “I’m able to handle any kind of music,” he says, “but I think that when jazz stops swinging, it’s not jazz.”

The music on Woody’s latest Columbia album, Woody III – like the music on its predecessors, Rosewood and Stepping Stones – never stops swinging for an instant. And it reveals Shaw as a true triple-threat man – not only is he playing better than ever, but he wrote all but one of the LP’s six selections and did all the arrangements.

The album’s title has two meanings. Woody III refers not only to the fact that it’s his third Columbia release, but also to the name of Woody’s first child, Woody Louis Armstrong Shaw III, who was born shortly before the album was recorded. The three selections on the first side, performed by an impressive 12-piece ensemble, are designed to tell the musical story of three generations of Woody Shaws.

James Spaulding, alto saxophone and flute, is featured as guest soloist on Woody III, but at the core of most of the tracks is Shaw’s strong, tight young band of Carter Jefferson on saxophones, Onaje Allan Gumbs on piano, Buster Williams or Clint Houston on bass and Victor Lewis on drums. “I think I’ve found musicians who can play it all,” Woody said of his quintet at the time Stepping Stones, recorded live at New York’s Village Vanguard, was released, and the critics agreed. Rafi Zabor of Musician magazine, for example, praised it as “everything modern jazz should be” and called Shaw “a state-of-the-art trumpeter with a state-of-the-art band.”

Similar plaudits have been coming Woody’s way for some time. Down Beat‘s Chuck Berg, in a five-star review of Rosewood, called him “one of today’s leading contenders for the world’s heavyweight trumpet crown.” Whitney Balliett of The New Yorker has called him “a trumpeter of startling invention and intensity.” The readers of Down Beat voted Woody trumpeter of the year and Rosewood jazz album of the year in that magazine’s 1978 poll. And the members of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences nominated Rosewood for two Grammy awards. Shaw’s legion of admirers is growing, and there’s no reason to doubt that with the release of Woody III, it will continue to grow.

Woody Shaw was born on Christmas Eve in 1944 in Laurinburg, North Carolina, home of Dizzy Gillespie’s alma mater, Laurinburg Institute. Woody’s father, Woody Sr., was himself a Laurinburg alumnus and a member of the gospel group, the Diamond Jubilee Singers. When Woody was still a baby, the family moved to Newark, New Jersey, where Woody began studying trumpet at age 11 with Jerome Ziering.

Two years later he began his professional career, playing with Brady Hodge’s Newark-based R&B orchestra. He worked with local acts like Alan Jackson and the Jive Five while in high school, where he made the All-City and All-State orchestras in 1959. Woody never finished high school, but he received valuable musical schooling through his work with local jazzmen like organist Larry Young and saxophonist Tyrone Washington. At 18, he got what he calls “the ultimate of my indoctrination” with Latin-jazz pioneer Willie Bobo at a club called the Blue Coronet in Brooklyn (among the other members of the band were Chick Corea and Joe Farrell).

Eric Dolphy heard Woody at the Blue Coronet and asked him to join his band. “Eric’s music had a profound influence on me,” he says of the late saxophonist. “He taught me a freer way to play and helped me find my own voice.” Woody made his recording debut on Dolphy’s Iron Man LP, and had been preparing to join him in Europe when Dolphy died in 1964. He went over anyway, settling in Paris, where he gained valuable experience playing with expatriate bebop greats Kenny Clarke and Bud Powell. He was also reunited with Larry Young, who played with him at Le Chat Qui Peche, a Paris nightclub, and also toured Belgium and Germany with him. The following year Horace Silver – whose trumpeter Carmell Jones, was himself moving to Europe – wrote to Shaw and asked him to come back to the U.S. and join his quintet…….Learn More

You can visit Woody Shaw’s official website here.

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