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September 13, 1978 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1978-09-13

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Woody Shaw certainly is not an old
an and he does not play like one. But
oughout Shaw's music, there lies a
nsibility of firm and positive
rectness that would belie the age of
any of Shaw's jazz elders, and which
ertainly makes the 34-year-old Shaw
em at times almost possessed by the
host of some old jazz great.
Maybe it is because he has been
aptised by such a variety of music that
haw's style conveys such integrity. By
aying with people like Eric Dolphy,
ud Powell, Andrew Hill, Art Blakey,
'erbie Hancock and many more, Shaw
viously has soaked up large pieces of
e modern jazz tradition.
BUT INSTEAD of displaying this jazz
smosis through a transparent display
f eclecticism - a dreadful
isjudgement of which many in jazz
re guilty - Shaw, quite
nselfconsciously, has found a certain
nderground current running through
11 portions of-his jazz background.
Of course, if one possesses the
tegrity of age, it does not mean he is
lways wise. At his late show Monday
t the Earle, an inebriated Woody Shaw
,pilled customer's drinks, knocked the
ierophone off the tiny bandstand, and
ropped money from his pocket onto
he floor, clumsily stooping several
imes to pick it up. Demon rum,
owever, did not deter his talents: in
act, a friend told me he played much
etter than he did sober at his show last
ear in the Power Center. Supported by
marvelous group, Shaw played an
mpressive, well-balanced show of
ainstream jazz.
The band kicked off with a medium-
empo number which was soon cracked
pen by Shaw's hard-blowing runs and
issonant interval jumps, along with
he viciousness of Victor Lewis'
ercussive attack.
THE SECOND TUNE, like the first
nnamed, ran along similar lines of
onstruction: a cleanly-stated melody,
ollowed by a progression of solos by all
and members (except the drummer),
ith solo trade-offs';and the transitions
rom melody to solo vamping and back
winging smoothly on well-oiled hinges.
Quite possibly, this was the Shaw
and at its peak. As Shaw and soprano
ax player, Carter Jefferson breezed
hrough a whimsically dissonant triplet,
heme, the band was firm, but sounding
erry enough to conjure the image of
slipping on a banana peel.
Subsequent solos, however, took
away the force of the joke, and laid
down the truth of how dangerous that
amusing slip can be. Shaw 's
enthusiastic mid-to-upper-range work,
a Shorter-influenced soprano sax solo;
and the bubbling rhythm section turned

this potentially light-hearted tune into a
stand-out. There was an incendiary,
intensity to the mid-song solos in both
the first two numbers, which gratefully
was without the too-often faked aura of
spirituality and bullshit conceptualism
that springs from taking one's intensity
too seriously.
THE ZENITH of the show's first half
came during the next tune, bassist
Clinton Houston's "Watership Down."
Announced as a rhythm section feature,
it might seem at first like an unusual


but tops

The Michigan Daily-Wednesday, September 13, 1978-Page 7
MON. ttwu SAT. 10 A.M. tl I:36 P.M. SUN. & HOLS. 12 Noon ti1 9:30 P.+4.
Monday-Saturday 1:30-5:00, Admission $2.50-Adult and Students
Sundays and Holidays 1:30 to Close, $3.50 Adults, $2.50 Students
Sunday-Thursday Evenings Student & Senior Citizen Discounts
Children 12 And Under, Admissions $1.25

1. Tickets sold no sooner than 30 minutes
prior to showtilne.
2. No tickets sold later than 15 minutes
after showtime.


choice since it was not the rapid-fire
stomp one might expect. Soon, though,
it made perfect sense, with an
intelligent chart and the richly melodic
sense that informs so much of
Houston's fine playing.
Leaping into double and then
quadruple-time treatments of the same
melody, the band never needlessly fired
up, instead maintaining, a very
impressive warmth.
After a somewhat lengthy
intermission (which apparently was not
used as sobering-up time) the group
opened with "Rosewood," one of
Shaw's best-known compositions.
THE REAL MEAT followed
"Rosewood" however, in a pair of
songs composed by Shaw's pianist
Onaje Gumbs. "Every Time I See You"
was a soulfully forceful piece, sporting
perhaps the best solo work Gumbs
delivered all evening. Although Gumbs
at times seemed too meticulous and
unwilling to test out ideas,' his
economical attempts to construct quiet
solos that, don't have to shout to be
li tened to - as the other band
niembers' did - worked best in this
The next song, titled "All Things
Being Equal . . . Or Not," was,
startlingly, considerably more
spectacular. A marvel of staunch
delicacy, with 'the melody spun out
nakedly by Shaw's sweet vibrato-less
cornet lines, "All Things. . ." evolved
into an intriguing and wonderful
dialogue between bass and piano.
No matter how good Onaje was on
"Everytime", here is how I'll
remember him: wafting melodies over
to Houston, inching from soloing to
supporting almost unnoticeably.
Although the next tune, "Stepping
Stone" from Shaw's forthcoming
album, featured some eye-popping
trade-offs between Shaw and Jefferson,
it was a tad anticlimactic after "Alt
Things ...".
Years from now, when musicologists
wish to get a fix on what jazz sounded
like in the 1970's and how important it
could be, they could do much worse
than to uncover the work of Woody
Shaw. Music historians will not search
for Shaw when they are looking for
pioneering zeal, or iconoclastic
individuality, but as a definition of what
jazz is really about, let's hope they
know just where to go.

Daily Photo by ANDY FREEBERG
Above, Woody Shaw relaxes between sets at the Earle Monday evening; below,
Shaw gives the customers what they paid for.
' fall art and craft classes
offered in the Michigan Union
Classes and Workshops including:
eRegister Now- Classes Start Oct. 2
U-M Arfists & Craftsmen Guild 763-4430
2nd Floor, Michigan Union

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