Quotes on Woody Shaw

Dizzy Gillespie: “Woody Shaw is one of the voices of the future…not of the future, of the present! He has something that’s different, something unique to offer. He’s the guy who makes people say: ‘Hey, look out, look out; here it comes!’


Miles Davis: “Now there’s a great trumpet player. He can play different from all of them.”


Max Roach: “He was truly one of the greatest. I first had occasion to work with Woody on a trip to Iran. One of the most amazing things was his uncanny memory. I was just flabbergasted! After one look, he knew all of the charts, no matter how complex they were.”


Milt Jackson: “I really admired and respected Woody Shaw’s playing. He was one of our finest young Jazz trumpeters.”


Horace Silver: “Woody Shaw is full of beautiful fire, drive, imagination, and harmonic knowledge. I like him better than any other young trumpeter.”


Dexter Gordon: “The thing about Woods is that he’s done his homework. He’s hip to Louis Armstrong, plays intervals, and runs backwards so to speak. He breaks it down, plays atonal, and then comes back and plays real trumpet. Woods covers the whole spectrum!”


Wynton Marsalis: “Woody added to the vocabulary of the trumpet. He had a real concept about the organization of group music that often utilized many different and complex harmonic progressions. He was very serious, disciplined and respectful towards jazz. His whole approach influenced me tremendously.”


Terence Blanchard: “Well, the thing about Woody that a lot of us always say, and which can still be said with great, great clarity right now, is that he was probably one of the last great innovators in jazz.”


I think when you talk about Woody Shaw, man. I think, you know. People have to really put him into context to really appreciate how significant he was. One way to do that is to gather all of the recordings of his contemporaries and check out what they were doing. Then listen to Woody. And…. Aaaand!… Get a lot of recordings of trumpet players, including myself, since then, and listen to those. Then listen to Woody. You dig what I’m sayin’? And, you will hear in Woody Shaw something that you don’t hear in anybody else. And I mean anybody else. You can take that to the bank… You can print that in National Enquirer or the New York Times, and I’ll defy anybody who comes up to me and tries to prove me wrong.”


Chick Corea: “I first met Woody at our clandestine jam sessions at Juilliard School when it was up on 120 something street. We’d hide in some empty classroom with a piano, sneak the drums in (Wilson Morman) and have some fun while our teachers weren’t looking. I remember us jamming with Hubert Laws, Pete Yellin, Lyle Atkinson and a wild fellow from NJ named Pete Rose who was the first guy I ever heard play the saxophone and sound like Trane. (By the way I’d love to find Pete Rose if anyone knows what happened to him.)


Woody and I were young and excited to be flexing our minds in the musical atmosphere that existed in New York City at that time by Miles, Trane, Horace, Monk, the Jazz Messengers, Ornette, Sonny and the other great musicians we were learning the trade from. Woody was way out in front right from the start. He had already developed a unique voice of his own on the horn coming through Clifford, Miles, Freddie and Lee. We were partners in this “illegal” music. That was 1959 and 60. Then in ’65 I got a chance to record my first album – all my own music – and Woody was there playing his heart out along with Joe Farrell, Steve Swallow and Joe Chambers. We then made my 2nd recording “Is” in the spirit of the experiments that Trane was making in those days. Woody never hesitated – he was always ready to jump into the unknown and explore. That was the spirit that we aligned on.


Woody then continued on to burn up the world with his firery horn. He left an indelible mark on the jazz trumpet legacy and the spirit of his music will of course always be part of me and all the music world.”


Kenny Garrett: “I have a lot of tunes for Woody. I have a tune on Black Hope which is called ‘Run Run Shaw.’ There is a tune on Happy People called ‘A Hole in One,’ written for Tiger Woods, but in the back of my mind, I am always thinking of Woody Shaw. His influence and his presence is always in my music somehow. Woody Shaw, I think in the community, people definitely knew about him. When I first got to New York and I started hearing Woody Shaw, I was roommates with Mulgrew Miller and Tony Reedus, who were playing in his band. I got a chance to hear him a lot more probably than other people.


The thing that I liked about Woody was that he came from Freddie (Hubbard), but he also, at some point, started to develop his own thing. To me, not only that, he was coming from Trane too. When I think of Woody Shaw, I think of John Coltrane. Harmonically, I think of John Coltrane. It gave me a chance to hear music differently and it was definitely at one of his peaks in his musical career. For me, I really got a chance to hear Woody and to hear him play nights where no one heard him. I have tapes of him when I was screaming, he was playing so much trumpet and then I had an opportunity to play with Woody Shaw and Freddie Hubbard on the “Double Take” CDs and that was beautiful too. Even though I love Freddie Hubbard, Woody, just harmonically, he was playing what I wanted to hear at that point.” (From “A Fireside Chat with Kenny Garrett,” Jazzweekly, Fred Jung).


Mulgrew Miller: ”Woody was one of the most imaginative and creative musicians I’ve had the privilege of being around. He was also one of the youngest and perhaps one of the last great conceptualists that came in the wake of John Coltrane and Miles Davis. In Woody’s band, we dealt with so many different ways and different styles of playing; modal, free, way-out, standards and bebop. It was quite an experience to be around somebody who found new ways of playing all those kinds of music, and with new concepts.”


“Woody Shaw was a true visionary. The world suffers from a lack of true visionaries. I was blessed and privileged that Woody saw something in this meager talent of mine to allow me to be in his band for a few years. That experience helped mold me into what I am today. I’ve had very vivid dreams of him. Indeed it was my good fortune to be in his presence. I’m so grateful!”


Dave Liebman: ”One of the greatest Jazz musicians of all time…”


Dave Douglas: ”I still listen to Miles a lot… Freddie Hubbard, Bird, and Woody Shaw… I think Woody was really my guy.”


Chris Botti: ”I love Woody…. His shapes! He was just an incredibly forward-thinking trumpet player.”


Wallace Roney: ”Miles was like my Dad. Woody was like my uncle… Woody didn’t let up… Woody was the keeper of the flame and an innovator as well.”


Randy Brecker: ”A true mentor to me, he was. It was so kind of Woody to recommend me for some pivotal gigs in my own career (Horace Silver and Art Blakey) and his musical and technical suggestions had a lasting influence on me. He was indispensable in my development as a trumpet player and musician. I am forever grateful that I got to know Woody as well as I did, and always think of and literally “feel” him every time I play… and as far as Woody the Person, I’ll always remember that perfectly dressed young man on the street corner in Seattle, 1965, waiting for a cab late at night after the gig, holding those Coltrane records close to his heart.”


Alex Sipiagin: “Woody Shaw is my favorite trumpet player, my inspiration since I was studying in Russia,” Sipiagin declares. “The first time I heard him, around 1985, we had a limited amount of music in Russia at the time, and our teacher had tapes so I got copies. I was completely blown away. Even now, many years later, every time I listen to Woody, I always find something new and inspiring — a strong individual style and concept of playing. And I still feel a little weird about playing his music because I always think, man, I’m not deserving yet.”


Brian Lynch: ”Woody Shaw was the last innovator in the trumpet lineage.”


Sean Jones: “Woody Shaw will always be an example of uncompromising integrity and individualism in spite of the obstacles.”


Printz Board from The Black Eyed Peas: “Probably my top two favorite trumpet heroes] would be, Woody Shaw, and I love Miles…”


Anders Bergcrantz: “I don’t think it’s enough to just mention Woody’s choice of notes, even though they for sure are totally unique. In order to get a full picture you will have to experience and understand his sound, color, lyricism, articulating, timing together with the entire sound of his composing and different bands. No matter if he picked a newly written tune or an old standard, the sound and concept is always totally fresh and played with so much love, pride and confidence. His “outer” complex lines on his horn wouldn’t mean anything without his total understanding and musical liberty of not having to plan or think of when, if or how to execute them. Also, the entire way of Woody playing his horn was always benefiting from and developing in close harmony with his unique composing……And let’s never forget that Woody was the guy on trumpet who came up with all this! Well, I was born into Jazz since my father and brothers were Jazz musicians and showed me records with Woody when I was a young kid, and ever since then Woody Shaw has been one of my absolute greatest sources of inspiration.”