Woody Shaw: Love Dance (1975) Muse

Selection: Love Dance (Bonner)

.  .  .

Track List

A1. Love Dance (J. Bonner) 12:37
A2. Obsequious (L. Young ) 9:28
B1. Sunbath (P. Stern) 6:33
B2. Zoltan (W. Shaw) 6:48
B3. Soulfully I Love You (Black Spiritual Of Love) (B. Harper) 8:13


Woody Shaw, trumpet; Billy Harper, tenor saxophone; Rene Mclean, alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Steve Turre, trombone, bass trombone; Joe Bonner, piano; Cecil Mcbee, bass; Tony Waters, congas; Victor Lewis, drums; Guilherme Franco, percussion. 

Recorded November, 1975 at Blue Rock Studio, New York City, Eddie Korvin, engineer; mastered by Joe Brescio, producer, Michael Cuscuna; Ⓟ Ⓒ 1976, Muse Records.


No greater tribute to Woody than from Miles: “Now there’s a great trumpet player. He can play different from all of them.” — Miles Davis. (English also spoken)

The Bonner composition Love Dance is a killer groove, monumental, anthemic, unstoppable. The piano/bass riff kicks off and I go Wylde Stallions twerking in my LJC Director’s Chair. Dadadadaa, Dada da, der du, duhduh.  Repeat, repeat, hit me again, some more. I can not get enough of Love Dance on my turntable. 

Woody finesses the arrangement with some ensemble passages,  all the soloists rise to the occasion, Turre’s earthy trombone, Rene McLean’s acid tone like his dad, McBee pushing the bass, finishing with Billy Harper’s diamond-hard drill, that wicked riff keeps coming back like a good penny. Phew! Twelve compelling minutes and I’m exhausted.

The front line is strong, and the album includes three “percussionists”, to deliver additional rhythmic complexity.  I’m warming to Rene McLean, who became a regular feature of Shaw’s line-up, when not performing with dad and The Cosmic Brotherhood. Talent doesn’t always run in families, but maybe hard work and practice does in this one.  I picked up some nice Steeplechase titles with Rene as leader, not disappointing. 

All the tracks are notable, some familiar titles from other albums. Shaw’s signature Larry Young title Obsequious for example is also found on the In The Beginning prequel Shaw album, his early playbook but not issued by Muse until 1983. 

Overall, Love Dance is a must have – if you can find it!

Vinyl: MR 5074

Big stereo presentation. Pressed at Bell Sound, etching PRC (Richmond Indiana, plating/metalware) Muse are generally solid performers, especially the mid and later 70s releases. Later, things can get a bit messy, always listen first.

Collector’s Corner

I knew nothing of this album until we came face to face in the New Arrivals, and even, then the cover said to me: “Are you sure, LJC? .. that title,  Luuurve Daaance … the wedding invitation card pink fonts … that shirt … What was the art director trying to say about this album? Whatever it was, it’s not the album I am now listening to.  All Music gave the album only four out of five stars. Were they listening to the same album as me?  I’m giving it six out of five, or I’m thinking, maybe seven. 

For a terrific Woody Shaw album, and we love Woody Shaw here at LJC, its publishing history is criminally deficient. Released originally in 1976, with a simultaneous edition in Japan. Over twenty years later, in 1998,  a DSD digital remaster  – Extra-Evil Silver Disk –  was issued in Japan, and then … pouff. Nothing. No vinyl reissue since 1976, making the original vinyl very scarce. If it came back, keep an eye on digital source files. Too much of today’s vinyl revival is actually a CD-revival on 180gm plastic.

I’d never seen it before in the wild, and I think I now know why. People in the know know, and they know about the cover. Luke, this is not the “Luurve Daance” you are looking for. . .

I am purposely ignoring the Mosaic Complete Woody Shaw Muse Vinyl box set. They seem to turn up  only in Estate Probate Sales, with the auctioneer’s remark “appears unplayed“. Never seen the Shaw Mosaic Vinyl box in the wild here. For those that have it, it must be a keeper, or they have taken it with them over to The Other Side.

(Cue Pearly Gates. What’s in the bag, Sir? Umm, nothing really, just a couple of Mosaics. What, like Sistine Chapel mosaics? Don’t lie to me, not here.  Not exactly, Out-of-Print Mosaics, vinyl box sets. Hey Rudy, over here! We got another one! They keep comin’! Take a seat in the Waiting Room, Sir)

It’s a pity Mosiac / Cuscuna hasn’t caught up with the vinyl revival, still churning out multiple CD sets. The OOP Shaw digital box (left) contains seven CDs. You would be better advised to compile your own collection of Muse original  vinyl copies, which is what I have done. 

Woody’s son seems active in promoting his dad’s legacy. Good egg.  Someone owns the publishing rights to Muse – Sony?. There is treasure there for whoever has custody of the original tapes, though on current Sony performance, if it is Sony, confidence is not high. Sony doesn’t seem to have much presence in the vinyl revival, another big company bewitched by digital formats and the search for the next Taylor Swift. Sony Legacy division released a six-CD box set of Woody’s 1977-1981 run with Columbia, The Complete Woody Shaw Columbia Albums Collection.  Like, we need more Woody Cds. I suspect we vinylistas are on our own here. The Japanese pressing of Love Dance sounds promising, mid-70s Toshiba-EMI were good early days, they knew how to cut vinyl.

Vinyl House (UK) currently  have a Muse Promo copy of Love Dance, on Ebay, auction closing this weekend. Vinyl House (UK)  are high-end dealers, the guys behind Mobley 1568 breaking the 7k barrier,  EBay twitchers may want to take note. I had some questionable dealings with them a few years back. Collectors Advisory: Muse promo/white label’s are quite common. I have a half dozen, they don’t sound any different to an ordinary commercial release. They are bulk radio-play industry promos, not test pressings. Some Muse editions found in Europe are manufactured in France, some even with Van Gelder metal, though this rarely gets a mention. They sound no different either.

On the back of Love Dance, its been something of a Woody Shaw revival week at LJC. revisiting the Shaw Collection. Columbia has some outstanding Woody titles, there is even an interesting title on German Enja label, Lotus Flower, just ignore the cod-Japanese references. However, a new release to avoid is this apparently promising-looking Resonance title, Larry Young In Paris 1963-5 ORTF Recordings, a “lost recording” that should have stayed lost. (Resonance have a track record of “newly-discovered recordings” that don’t cut the mustard sonically)

Larry shares the stage with Woody Shaw and Nathan Davis, a powerful team, but unfortunately a poor quality live radio recording, with the engineer at a loss how to record Larry’s Hammond live on stage, the result sounding not unlike a washing machine on spin. The recording was subsequently given the coup-de-grâce, digitised by French state radio archivists INA, finishing it off. I might get around to posting a selection from the better tracks.

Any Woody Shaw lovers out there? I couldn’t find anyone reviewing the Love Dance album, I suspect it is rare in the wild. Other Shaw titles or appearances of note? Throw in your sixcents’worth

Thoughts welcome, flex those digits.



16 thoughts on “Woody Shaw: Love Dance (1975) Muse

  1. Re Woody Shaw on Muse MR5074
    Thanks for your great comments on that Lp and the sound sample. I am more a big band fan but do collect to 50% also the small group jazz. So after listening to your sound sample I checked immediately the shelves searching for Woody Shaw. Have quite a bunch of Muse and luckyly enough also thze one you did comment on. Yep the ‘Love Dance’ is a real burner so I will spin now some of his other Items I have
    – Little Red Fantasy
    – The Moontrane
    – The Woody Shaw Concert Ensemble (from Berlin, Germany)

    Beeing a long member of LJC and following your comments I’ll say keep them coming. Its excellent stuff we fans read here in Germany. And thanks again for hipping me on that great tune with Shaw.
    W (Jazzcorner)


  2. Many thanks for yet another wonderful post. Shaw was certainly one of the greatest trumpeters and I hope to find this album one day.

    It’s interesting that you mention the Larry Young album too, on two occasions I’ve held it in my hands at the local record store but put it back in the rack as the high price put me off. Now, with your comments in mind, I won’t be tempted a third time and will let it where it is. Still, I think that you’re being a bit rude to Resonance Records, as I have some of their albums that certainly do cut the mustard sonically, like the Dutch and German radio recordings of Bill Evans. These sound excellent to me, especially ‘Behind the Dikes – the 1969 Netherlands recordings’ and ‘Another Time – The Hilversum Concert’.


  3. Hi LJC, I love Woody Shaw and almost pulled the trigger on this album when I saw an original on eBay for £38 – wish I had now after reading this.

    Rosewood is one of my fave jazz albums – a sublime work front to back. Another great title with a lot of fire is “Song of Songs” from early 70s which I did this time buy on eBay, – was described as an OJC 80s reissue but was in fact, to my joy, a sealed original on Contemporary records – a paltry £30 was never better spent!

    Larry Young’s “Unity” another awesome title, where Woody shines bright.


  4. Slightly off topic, but something that has intrigued me for a while (I should get out more), did Jackie McLean really father Rene when he was 14/15 years old?


    • To which my reaction is: “Oh Dear”.

      The Savoy catalogue passed through many hands over the decades , poor standard of vinyl reissues, no confidence in the survival of original tapes, Concord own Craft Records and we have seen a few choice jazz reissues – Quiet Kenny, their Top Shelf reissues, may be hope yet for Muse yet

      For the time being, back to digging crates.


  5. Hello
    As always i enjoy reading your posts!
    And actually my response got not so much to do with this story but it inspired me tell about this great song on Art Blakey’s record Child’s dance (also with Woody Shaw) anyhow has got 4 different recordings under 4 different names.. it is written by by Ramon Morris as Lord Sideways and then recorded twice by Donald Byrd once as fancy free and i think my favourite as kofi issued much later. Anyhow peace and enjoy

    Verzonden vanuit Outlook voor iOShttps://aka.ms/o0ukef


  6. This is a wonderful album, as are all of Woody’s that I’ve heard. I especially like “Sunbath,” a composition by yet another of those Philadelphia jazz legends, Peggy Stern. She also recorded the tune herself with a similar front line of trumpet, trombone and tenor. Her version is a more relaxed one, not at the level of Woody and his crew – and missing the great bass trombone of Steve Turre. Seeing Woody perform at the Village Vanguard, with the STEPPING STONES band (Carter Jefferson, Onaje Allan Gumbs, Clint Houston, Victor Lewis), is one of my finest jazz memories.


  7. Great writeup on a record that deserves a lot more love! I share your enthusiasm for Shaw’s work, and wanted to add a couple of comments with all kidding about the “evil” of silver CDs and corporations aside. Re: Sony’s Woody Shaw CD box of his Columbia Records years, that was readily available and inexpensive for ages (less than $25 US) and worthwhile for improved sound on Woody III, and a bonus disc of unreleased live material from the ‘Live at the Village Vanguard’ album. And Mosaic did issue a vinyl and CD box of “The Complete CBS Studio Recordings” but that was a licensing deal–Sony has no ownership stake or say in the Muse catalog of Woody Shaw. Also, the Mosaic Muse box was never on vinyl to the best of my knowledge, and to my ears (all subjective of course) the sound on that Mosaic box is FAR better than most of the Muse vinyl I’ve heard–particularly recordings from the late 70s and Woody’s second run on Muse from the 80s. Some is due to better mastering choices (Berliner Soundstage) and some due to better pressings (the 80s Muse pressings could be hit or miss). While vinyl is generally my preferred medium, I sure hate the notion of anyone missing out on this great music because of format inflexibility–if you see a copy of the Shaw Mosaic Muse box at a decent price, BUY IT! Woody III is keeping the flame burning with a series of archival releases and a Woody app (annual subscription, and the fee is too high, but there is a lot of unreleased Shaw available in it if apps are your thing) and he’s been making noise about a documentary for years, but after a rapid pace things have been pretty quiet on that front–here’s hoping 2023 brings something cool! Thanks for a great blog! –Syd (@jazzandcoffee on Instagram)


  8. Little Red’s Fantasy (Muse 5103) is the one that has me shaking my head in amazement. Hits bone-deep, utterly beautiful quintet playing, and highlights the writing of Ronnie Mathews (piano). Genius that he was, Woody seems to win the prize for “best music on terrible cover art LPs”. Probably a big reason why his albums are so affordable.


    • Little Red’s Fantasy is my own most recent Woody Shaw acquisition, and you’re right – it’s fantastic.

      Love Dance was the second Woody Shaw album I bought (Song of Songs was the first), and it’s still a favorite. Five years on, I’m just looking for Imagination, In the Beginning, Solid, and his Joe Henderson collaboration, Jazz Patterns, and I should have just about everything that was released on vinyl during his lifetime.

      If there’s another jazz artist who personifies “underrated” as much Woody Shaw, I’m at loss to think of whom.


  9. astonishing album!! Now spinning my Muse copy. I also have the Mosaic Complete CD Muse sessions, but the vinyl is sounding superior.
    Very recently I have been posting sound clips on IG (@jazz_party_free) of three underrated records of 70s Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers with Woody Shaw and Cedar Walton/George Cables on electric piano. Recommended for 70s jazz fans!


  10. i have every woody shaw album on muse, except for “solid”, inexplicably. Someday. I also have all of his columbia and contemporary titles, the enja, and a few other scattered things here and there. his is truly an amazing legacy.

    i share your sentiments on “love dance”. It and “the moontrane” are instant and incredible classics. woody shaw has never disappointed me.


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