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Woody Shaw: Last of The Line

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This two-CD set contains reissues of Shaw’s “Cassandranite” and “Love Dance” LPs. Stylistically they’re advanced post bop albums, post bop influenced by John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman and Eric Dolphy. On “Cassandranite” (1965) Shaw appears with tenorman Joe Henderson, pianists Larry Young or Herbie Hancock, bassists Ron Carter or Paul Chambers and drummer Joe Chambers. Containing some stimulating compositions and solos, it probably would’ve been worth good money if it’d been originally issued on Blue Note. The CD ends with “Medina,” a 1971 Joe Chambers track featuring Woody. “Love Dance” comes from a 1975 date with saxophonists Rene McLean and Billy Harper, trombonist Steve Turre, pianist Joe Bonner, bassist Cecil McBee, drummer Vic Lewis and two percussionists. Its selections bristle with color and intensity. Like Coltrane’s late work it brings together a number of influences, e.g.. Latin American, Arabic. The quality of improvisation varies from pretty good to excellent. Shaw’s near the top of his game. The fiery trumpeter has a style reminiscent of Freddie Hubbard’s but denied Hubbard influenced him. Perhaps he and Freddie derived from the same sources, Clifford Brown and John Coltrane. In any event Shaw had a somewhat softer tone than Hubbard and was more relaxed. He used all registers of his horn well, liked to play complex lines and employed wide interval leaps. Henderson, who received belated recognition in the late 1980s, was already a consummate artist by 1965, and a consistent one. Everything he plays makes sense. Vick, McLean and Harper perform well but they’re not in his class. Few are.