Woody Shaw

North Carolina native Woody Shaw, Jr. is today considered to be the last major innovator in the lineage of 20th-century trumpet that began with Joe “King” Oliver, Jabbo Smith, Louis Armstrong, and which extended on through the likes of Harry James, Bunny Berigan, Cootie Williams, Roy Eldridge, Dizzy Gillespie, Fats Navarro, Miles Davis, Kenny Dorham, Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan, Booker Little, Donald Byrd, and Freddie Hubbard. Inspired heavily by saxophonists John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy and pianist McCoy Tyner, as well as by various world musics and European classical composers, Woody Shaw sought to extend the legacy of jazz by systematically advancing the tonal-harmonic, melodic, rhythmic and improvisational language of modern music through the trumpet and by way of his original compositions. Rooted deeply within the spiritual and intellectual dimensions of both African American and European classical forms (what he termed “Afro-European” musics), and invested in exploring an array of world cultures and systems of thought, Woody Shaw pioneered a new approach to structured improvisational composition in which the totality of his influences would gradually find uncompromising expression.

With laser-like focus, unrelenting will, and the alacrity of an iron-chiseled mind, Woody brought to his music an overwhelming abundance of passion, emotional depth and existential meaning. In conjunction with his sense of artistic discipline and high philosophical regard for the craft of musicianship, Woody Shaw developed a singular approach to contemporary ensemble performance and creative leadership that would establish the gold standard for disciplined musical innovation during the 1970s and 80s, a legacy upon which succeeding generations of “serious” musicians, trumpeters, and scholars have continued to base their standards of excellence.

Musicians whose lives and careers have been directly impacted by Woody Shaw’s work (through interaction, exposure, or direct instruction), include such notables as Wallace Roney, Randy Brecker, Tom Harrell, Dave Douglas, and Terence Blanchard, as well as Wynton Marsalis, Chris Botti, and Ingrid Monson, and countless others, the latter three of whom received grants from the National Endowment of the Arts to study with Woody Shaw during the 1980s.

Originally posted on www.woodyshaw.com/bio

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