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Woody Shaw: Little Red’s Fantasy

In 1976 when this record was made, Shaw co-led a quintet that featured Junior Cook, but for this project he brought in the rarely-heard altoist Frank Strozier. It’s interesting to compare Strozier’s work here with his playing with Booker Little in 1960. His somewhat strident tone and tendency to push things on the earlier date gave way to a more relaxed mature style that made him an excellent partner for Shaw. Both have great facility and tone and both construct solos well. I have always felt that Shaw’s determination to utilize the kinds of progressions called “modal” (they aren’t really, of course) did him disservice.

Little’s harmonic explorations yielded more interesting fruit. But listening to this music for what it is and not what it’s not, Shaw’s writing within his chosen limits is remarkably effective, the band swings, and that beautiful trumpet sound is a huge plus, as always. One of the best Shaw reissues on 32 Jazz.

Originally Published