Woody Shaw – Louis Hayes The Tour, Vol. One – HighNote

Woody Shaw – Louis Hayes The Tour, Vol. One – HighNote HCD7291, 62:56 ****:

 This is a standout band doing creative and modern playing.

(Woody Shaw – trumpet; Junior Cook – tenor saxophone; Ronnie Mathews – piano; Stafford James – bass; Louis Hayes – drums)

Michael J. West, writing a blog for NPR Jazz said the following about Woody Shaw:”….might be jazz trumpet’s least appreciated giant.” If there were any questions about Woody Shaw’s bona fides, they were put to rest in this live recording from the Leiderhalle Mozartsaal, Stuttgart, Germany on March 22, 1976. The co-leader for the session was drummer Louis Hayes who brought along some of his Brooklyn his friends, Junior Cook on tenor sax, pianist Ronnie Mathews and bassist Stafford James, each of whom brings to the outing their post-bop sensibilities.

When Woody Shaw was just starting out at eighteen, he wrote what was to become an iconic number “The Moontrane” which was featured on organist Larry Young’s 1965 album Unity. This version is substantially different from other Shaw recordings, as it features an extended improvisation from under-appreciated pianist Mathews, before Shaw embarks on his linear exploration of the number which is filled with energy and a broad vision. Hayes builds towards the tune’s closeout with an expansive drum solo. Organist Larry Young wrote “Obsequious” which is delivered in a frantic tempo, opening  with a long, oblique, and often discordant, tenor solo from Junior Cook. Shaw’s brilliance is on full display as he show inventiveness in his phrasing and ideas. All the while Hayes’ drumming is pushing the theme forward at lightning speed.

Bassist Walter Booker and pianist Cedar Walton got together for the composition “Book’s Bossa” which the band rips out in true bossa fashion with Shaw and Cook opening the theme in a unison manner. Shaw then attacks his solo filling it with arpeggios and triplets all the while demonstrating his piercing power. Tenor saxophonist Junior Cook spent the years between 1958 1964 with the Horace Silver Quintet and participated in many of that band’s seminal recordings, gaining a reputation for his formidable and probing attack. This feature is on full display on this track.

This live session closes with “Invitation” with music and lyrics by Bronislau Kaper and Paul Francis Webster. Originally written for a 1950 film A Life Of Her Own starring Lana Turner and Ray Milland and it was conceived  as a lush and romantic ballad. However over the years, it has seen many iterations from a Latin beat, a languorous ballad, to an up-tempo swinger. It is in this latter configuration that Shaw and Hayes interpret the number. Filled with his usual biting lines and harmonic juxtapositions, Shaw is at his fiery best. Pianist Ronnie Mathews chips in a notable solo studded with single-note runs that cover the keyboard, all the while bassist James and drummer Hayes are keeping the process moving. Cook’s efforts are mostly limited to fills and breaks.

This is a standout band doing creative and modern playing.

TrackList: The Moontrane; Obsequious; Book’s Bossa; Ichi-Ban ; Sun Bath; Invitation

—Pierre Giroux

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