Selection: Pretty Eyes (Silver) mono original Blue Note
Woody Shaw (trumpet) Joe Henderson (tenor saxophone) Horace Silver (piano) Bob Cranshaw (bass) Roger Humphries (drums) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, October 1, 1965
One of Horace’s most revered albums, most frequently cited after Song for My Father. For me, it is Joe Henderson that gives a tougher edge to the usual rhythmic momentum of the Silver Quintet, seasoning with dissonances and more challenging directions of exploration than the malted-tenor tones of Junior Cook or Hank Mobley.
Woody Shaw’s piercing fiery trumpet and Henderson’s raw-edged tenor ride adventurously over Silver’s strong melodies, and tempos varying from minor blues to waltz. Despite asserting links to Latin, Caribbean and Cape Verde musical heritage, it sounds more hard-bop with leanings towards modal, and anticipating greater harmonic freedom that was to come, without sacrificing Silver’s “hard-driving accompaniment ”
The album is also graced on half the tracks by J.J.Johnson, a long-standing ambition of Horace Silver’s, scoring for three brass instruments. J.J. is credited with lifting the trombone out of its traditional place in swing and big bands, to find a new home in small band bebop. Here J.J.’s silky but rapid-fire trombone leaps effortless into Henderson’s spikey composition Mo’ Joe, bridging the old and the new.
Vinyl: BN 4220
Mono, VAN GELDER, ears, all present and correct, delivering very bright and loud presentation. One serendipitous finding on the rear cover is an authentic signature for Horace Silver, which allows direct comparison with the alleged autograph found on Mattyman’s cover of BN 1518. More commentary regarding the authenticity of the signature on that post here.
Now for something completely similar. An opportunity to compare an original Blue Note / Plastylite pressing with what I believe is a 1966 Liberty pressing, by All Disc, Roselle NJ., just the other side of line between Blue Note and Liberty
BST 84220 STEREO, NY/ LIBERTY (no ear)
You can now compare for yourself an original Blue Note mono with later Liberty stereo. These can fetch relatively high prices, especially as sellers are under no obligation to point out what is not there, it has no ear, but will be billed as “on original Blue Note NY labels” (true, the labels are original, though not the pressing) and VAN GELDER stamp, complete with 1966 “27 Years of” Blue Note inner sleeve.
The original mono is bright in comparison, the Liberty a little more mellow, nicely produced stereo, both Van Gelder masters, but Shaw’s feisty trumpet seems to all but disappear – go three minutes in and hear the difference between the mono and the stereo. Recorded in the fall of 1965, stereo has come a long way since the late ’50s, and van Gelder was getting the hang of it. Side 1 matrix A-1 indicates a second mastering.
The run-out has a faint hand-written code “114”, a running serial number like others found on some NY/Liberty pressings.
Mono? Stereo? Blue Note? Liberty? Plastylite, All Disc? All down to your hearing. I’m saying nothing.
Jumping Off Point: Woody Shaw (trumpet)
Ask “who is Woody Shaw?” and you may get some blank looks, well, you would have from me anyway. I put my hand up. On closer inspection I found I was already a fan, only I didn’t know it. I had lots of Woody Shaw on a lots of great albums, and that was the source of the problem, albums lead by other bigger names.
Andrew Hill Grass Roots? Woody Shaw. Jackie McLean Demon’s Dance? Woody Shaw. Joe Henderson If you are not part of the solution..? Woody Shaw. Bobby Hutcherson Cirrus? Woody…
Prior to this 1965 Horace session, at age 21, Shaw made his first recordings with Nathan Davis, Larry Young, and Eric Dolphy. In the next decade Shaw appears as sideman of choice on many adventurous jazz dates with Jackie McLean, Grachan Moncur III, Andrew Hill, Booker Ervin, Archie Shepp, Gary Bartz, Pharoah Sanders, Bobby Hutcherson as well as frequent Henderson outings.
His Blue Note artist biography observes:
Not untill the ’70s that Shaw first recorded as a leader and released several influential, forward-thinking albums featuring his by then highly individualized style that mixed harmonically complex post-bop, modal jazz, and nods toward fusion and free jazz.
Included in this period are such albums as Blackstone Legacy (1970), Song of Songs (1972), Moontrane (1974), Little Red’s Fantasy (1976), and The Iron Men (1977).
His album Rosewood for Columbia (1977) achieved the most acclaim, earning a Grammy nomination and voted Best Jazz Album of 1978 in the Down Beat Reader’s Poll — the same poll in which Shaw was picked as Best Jazz Trumpeter of the Year.
I see another reason why Shaw was largely outside my field of view, the timeline. The ’70s and 80’s were not a good time for vinyl, and I would perhaps wrongly have overlooked these titles. Shaw recorded well into the ’80s with a series of titles with Freddie Hubbard.
His career was tragically cut short by health problems, and his untimely death following an accident in 1989, at the age of only 44 .
This reprise of The Cape Verdean Blues has taught me to pay more attention to the name Woody Shaw in future, a slightly late discovery, but one which can only be a good thing.