October 25, 2014 | Posted in JAZZ, MUSIC | By

Woody Shaw: One of the last great Trumpet Innovators

Woody Shaw’s Blackstone Legacy is thought to be the trumpeters answer to Miles Davis and his Jazz Rock masterpiece Bitches Brew.

That comparison has always baffled me, other than the use of some electric piano and Bennie Maupin’s bass clarinet, The comparison is small in scope. Blackstone Legacy’s music is much more in the late 60’s post bop vein, with free, inside out playing.

Gary Bartz on tenor sax, Maupin on bass clarinet, as well as Ron Carter’s bass adds a lot of color and variety to the set. The music certainly doesn’t feel much like the experimental, and out of this world Bitches Brew

A great example of Jazz in the early 70’s, Modal Post bop with freer elements, that never go to far to bore the listener. Plenty of melody and exciting interplay between Woody and Gary Bartz.

The one time the album sounds a little like Bitches Brew is When Bennie Maupin sprinkles in his ghostly sounding bass clarinet, this definitely adds a Bitches Brew vibe to the music, Blackstone Legacy just doesn’t have the Funky danceable grooves to really live up to that comparison.

Blackstone Legacy is fantastic challenging music, worthy of many listens. Being as it is, the quintessential, and one of the early free bop sessions, all the tracks are very lengthy, with plenty of space being given for soloists to develop their ideas. The title track, “Boo Ann’s Grand” and “New World” are my favorites of this stellar session.

Woody Shaw was an underrated band leader and trumpeter, and he left this world much too early in 1989. Any sessions under his own name are worth acquiring, and Larry Young’s Unity is a must have.
It’s really a shame that Woody Shaw is so underrated.

“New World” from Blackstone Legacy

Woody Shaw was only 44 years old when he died

Woody passed away at the age 44 in 1989, probably the last great trumpet innovator, maybe the last one in jazz period. Woody expanded the vocabulary for the trumpet, but because he came along after main stream jazz had lost a lot of interest in the public, he goes over looked.

If you are a serious jazz collector of any note, no doubt you have run across Woody at one time or another, whether on Larry Young’s Unity, Horace Silver’s The Jody Grind, or even Tyrone Washington’s lone Blue Note session Natural Essence,

Woody pops up all over the place in the late 60’s and especially so during the 1970’s on Muse records, with albums like: Little Red’s Fantasy, The Moontrane, and Love Dance. Some of Woody’s most critically acclaimed works were laid to tape at Columbia: Rosewood, my personal favorite, and the fantastic Woody III.

I think over time Woody will get more respect, I know The vinyl copy  I have of Blackstone Legacy will never leave my collection. Woody died way too young, but his music will never die to the jazz aficionado.

Photo used with permission, via Amazon.com- Blackstone Legacy


Jason Sositko, a freelance writer and entrepreneur is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. I also use services such as Viglink and Skimlinks to earn income via links placed inside articles.

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