Quotes by Woody Shaw

I believe a musician should never lose sight of his creativity” (Interview with Lois Gilbert, WRVR FM, 1980).


“I want to do for the trumpet what John Coltrane did for the saxophone” (“Dialogues With Eugene Chadbourne,” Coda Magazine, 1976).


“Now,  as for this new breed of musicians with their ‘ultrasonic’ conservatory technique… I say, so what? Tell me a story from the heart of your soul and what your existence in this universe is all about.” (“Shawnuff Did, Shawnuff Said,” Coda Magazine, 1986).


“‎I realize,  we’re living in a time of economic hardship and musicians are scared to take chances, and they’re afraid to just create music and disregard critics and commercial categories. But, the only way the system is going to change is if the musicians themselves disregard what’s expected of them and start creating music that reflects their uniqueness, not just as musicians but as human beings” (Musician Magazine, 1980).


“I believe  you must always maintain a certain level of awareness of what’s happening in your environment, and in the Universe itself. You must also maintain hope when observing the state of affairs in the world, because in jazz, as in all forms of art, what is going on with you and around you, goes into making you a creative artist” (Musician Magazine, 1980).


“To me,  when it comes to jazz, the Afro American is the Major innovator of this music, because we have lived the experiences that have culminated jazz into a very highly developed form of music…. but, it’s an international art form!” (Interview with Chuck France, 1980).


“I would like  for all of my experiences to culminate into a unique individual, to showcase the different many sides of Woody Shaw, and to show that I’m a complete jazz musician” (Interview with Lois Gilbert, WRVR FM, 1980).


“McCoy Tyner,  who I look to as my musical guru, he’s proven very valuable to me. The man is so together—you can see the wisdom in his face. He’s finally starting to be recognized for what he is and what he has contributed. I would like to become involved with McCoy again. We’re going to get together, but McCoy just says, “We’ll get together.” Eventually I will get together with him. It’s inevitable. There’s not really any desperate search to get together, though, but we will. Because I can hear it. And what I’m doing on the trumpet fits best with him. Plus—I don’t hear any trumpet players playing in that direction” (“Dialogues With Eugene Chadbourne,” Coda Magazine, 1976).


“I used to listen  to Trane and Dolphy and think, wow, how come nobody plays like that on the trumpet? So I swung around from the Freddie Hubbard-Lee Morgan axis and tried to play the trumpet like a saxophone. And in so doing I learned a whole lot more about my instrument. I found I had to play pentatatonic scales through all the keys and after a while I found that I could jumble all these notes up and get a beautiful stream of harmonic color. At the same time I could play any changes” (Woody Shaw: The Intimidator, Melody Maker, 1976).


“In order  for a musician to grow, he’s got to pay his dues. Some musicians ask me, ‘well, what do you mean? You’re saying I have to ‘starve’ and pay all these dues just to play jazz?’ And my answer to them is, well, to some degree, yes! Because in order to play jazz you have to live it. Those notes mean something. They don’t just come from your brain, they come from your heart and soul too. And in order to have that heart and soul you have to experience life.  So I relate my music to my life and my life style. You can’t separate the two”  (Interview with Lois Gilbert, WRVR FM, 1980).