|Birth name||Woody Herman Shaw, Jr.|
December 24, 1944|
Laurinburg, North Carolina, United States
|Origin||Newark, New Jersey, United States|
|Died||May 10, 1989
Manhattan, New York City, United States
|Genres||Jazz, bebop, hard bop, post-bop, modal jazz, avant-garde jazz|
|Occupations||Trumpeter, flugelhornist, cornetist, bandleader, composer, clinician, educator|
|Instruments||Trumpet, flugelhorn, cornet|
|Labels||Columbia, Muse, Elektra, Blue Note, Fantasy, Contemporary, Concord Music Group|
|Associated acts||Art Blakey, McCoy Tyner, Freddie Hubbard, Eric Dolphy, Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Horace Silver, Max Roach, Andrew Hill, Lionel Hampton, Chick Corea, Pharoah Sanders, Joe Zawinul, Jackie McLean, Dexter Gordon, Louis Hayes, Hank Mobley, Mal Waldron, Tyrone Washington, Larry Young|
|Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Cornet|
Woody Shaw (December 24, 1944 – May 10, 1989) was an American jazz trumpeter, flugelhornist, cornetist, composer and band leader, often referred to as the "last innovator" in the jazz trumpet lineage. Shaw is credited with revolutionizing the technical and harmonic vocabulary of the instrument and is considered one of the great jazz composers and band leaders of the twentieth century. Born with a photographic memory and perfect pitch, Woody Shaw is looked upon as one of the major conceptualists and important musical geniuses in the history of jazz, thought to have been generations ahead of his time.
Early life and background 
Woody Shaw was born on December 24, 1944 in Laurinburg, North Carolina. He was brought to Newark, New Jersey by his parents, Rosalie Pegues and Woody Shaw, Sr., when he was 1 year old. Shaw's father, Woody Shaw, Sr. was a member of the African American gospel group known as the Diamond Jubilee Singers and both his parents attended the same secondary private school as Dizzy Gillespie, Laurinburg Institute. Shaw's mother was from the same town as Gillespie, Cheraw, South Carolina.
Shaw began playing bugle at age 9 and performed in the Junior Elks, Junior Mason, and Washington Carver Drum and Bugle Corps in Newark, New Jersey. Though not his first choice of instrument, he began studying classical trumpet with Jerome Ziering at Cleveland Junior High School at the age of 11. In a 1978 interview, Shaw explained:
The trumpet was not my first choice for an instrument. In fact, I ended up playing it by default. When we were asked what we wanted to play in the Eighteenth Avenue School Band, I chose the violin, but I was too late since all the violins were taken. My second choice was the saxophone or the trombone but they were also all spoken for. The only instrument that was left was the trumpet, and I felt why did I have to get stuck with this "tinny" sounding thing.
When I complained to my music teacher that I didn't think it was fair that all the other kids got to play the instruments they wanted, he told me to just be patient. He said he had a good feeling about me and the trumpet, and he assured me I'd grow to love it. Of course my teacher was right, and it didn't take long for me to fall in love with the trumpet. In retrospect, I believe there was some mystical force that brought us together.
Ziering encouraged him to continue his study of classical trumpet and pursue an education at the Juilliard School of music with famed trumpet instructor William Vacchiano, but Shaw had a deep interest in jazz. His first influences were Louis Armstrong and Harry James. After skipping two grades (Shaw had a photographic memory), he began attending Newark Arts High School (alma mater of Wayne Shorter, Sarah Vaughan, Larry Young, Grachan Moncur, Melba Moore, Savion Glover and many others).
As a teenager, Shaw worked professionally at weddings, dances, and night clubs. He eventually left school but continued his study of the trumpet under the influence of Dizzy Gillespie, Fats Navarro, Clifford Brown, Booker Little, Lee Morgan, and Freddie Hubbard. He later discovered that he had picked up the trumpet during the same month and year that Clifford Brown died, June 1956.
Paris and Eric Dolphy (early 1960s) 
In 1963, after many local professional jobs, Woody worked for Willie Bobo (with Chick Corea and Joe Farrell) and also performed and recorded as a sideman with Eric Dolphy. The following year, Dolphy invited Shaw to join him in Paris, however, Dolphy suddenly died shortly before Shaw's departure. He decided to make the trip nonetheless, and found steady work in Paris with close friend Nathan Davis, performing at the famed club Le Chat Qui Peche with musicians such as Bud Powell, Kenny Clarke, Johnny Griffin, and Art Taylor, as well as notable French musicians, like Jean-Louis Chautemps and Jef Gilson. Woody performed frequently in Berlin, and London with a group that included Nathan Davis, Larry Young, and Billy Brooks, the latter two of whom grew up with Shaw in Newark.
Blue Note Records (mid- to late 1960s) 
By the mid-1960s, Shaw had successfully absorbed the concepts and influence of his mentor and friend saxophonist Eric Dolphy (Iron Man, 1963), and was meanwhile exploring the harmonic innovations of John Coltrane. Both saxophonists contributed greatly to the development of his style as a trumpeter and composer.
Shaw returned to the U.S. from Paris in 1964 and began his career as one of Blue Note Records' formidable "house" trumpet players, working steadily with a roster of respected artists. He replaced Carmel Jones in the Horace Silver quintet (1965–1966), and made his very first Blue Note debut on Larry Young's famed Unity album (1965), upon which three of his compositions ("Zoltan", "Moontrane", and "Beyond All Limits") would appear ("Moontrane" was dedicated to John Coltrane, was written when Shaw as just 18 years old and was the first composition he ever wrote).
He also collaborated frequently and recorded with Chick Corea (1966–1967), Jackie McLean (1967), Booker Ervin (1968), McCoy Tyner (1968), Andrew Hill (1969), Herbie Hancock, and Bobby Hutcherson. In 1968-69, he worked intermittently with Max Roach touring with him to Iran. He also worked as a studio musician, and worked in pit orchestras and on Broadway musicals.
Columbia Records (1970s) 
After working frequently with Bobby Hutcherson, Art Blakey, McCoy Tyner and others, Woody Shaw emerged as a band leader during the early 1970s, which was a time when many jazz artists began to explore jazz-rock and fewer bands performed in the tradition of hard bop as a result of the popularity of and demand for more "commercial" music. A younger statesmen among his admired elders, Shaw saw himself as an heir to the musical legacy of great trumpeters such as Dizzy Gillespie, Fats Navarro, and Clifford Brown, and, being an alumnus of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, felt responsible for upholding the integrity and appreciation of the tradition of "straight-ahead" jazz.
He released several albums on the Muse label, and in 1978 was signed to Columbia Records following an endorsement from Miles Davis. He then recorded the albums Rosewood, Stepping Stones, Woody III, For Sure, and United. Rosewood was nominated for 2 Grammys and was voted Best Jazz Album of 1978 in the Down Beat Reader's Poll, which also voted Woody Shaw Best Jazz Trumpeter of the Year and No. 4 Jazz Musician of the Year.
Collaborations (1980s) 
Throughout the 1980s, Shaw continued performing and recording as a leader with sidemen such as pianists Onaje Allan Gumbs, Mulgrew Miller, and Larry Willis, bassist David Williams, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, and trombonist Steve Turre among others, recording a number of more "traditional" but highly-lyrical albums (Solid, Setting Standards, In My Own Sweet Way) consisting predominantly of standards and tunes from the hard bop repertoire. During this time he also worked on projects with saxophonists Kenny Garrett and Dexter Gordon, as well as fellow trumpeter Freddie Hubbard on three historic albums (Time Speaks, Double Take, and The Eternal Triangle), later reissued on Blue Note as the Freddie Hubbard and Woody Shaw Sessions.
He is survived by his mother, two brothers, a sister, and his son, Woody Louis Armstrong Shaw III.
Musical style 
Woody Shaw was noted for his mastery and innovative use of "wide" intervals, often fourths and fifths, which are considered relatively unnatural to the trumpet and difficult to employ skillfully due to (a) the tremendous technical facility required to do so (see embouchure), (b) the architecture of the instrument, (c) the trumpet's inherent harmonic tendencies based on the overtone series, and (d) its traditional association with intervals based more commonly on thirds and diatonic relationships.
In both his improvisations and his compositions, Shaw frequently used polytonality, the combination of two or more tonalities or keys (i.e. multiple chords or harmonic structures) at once. In his solos, he often superimposed highly complex permutations of the pentatonic scale and sequences of intervals that modulated unpredictably through numerous key centers. He was a master of modality and used a wide range of harmonic color, generating unusual contrasts, using tension and resolution, dissonance, odd rhythmic groupings, and "over the barline" phrases, yet always resolving his ideas according to the form and harmonic structure of a given composition while adhering to the conventions of jazz improvisation and simultaneously creating new ones.
His "attack" was remarkably clean and precise, regardless of tempo (Shaw often played extremely fast passages). He had a rich, dark tone that was distinctive with a near-vocal quality to it; his intonation and articulation were highly-developed, and he greatly utilized the effects of the lower register, usually employing a deep, extended vibrato at the end of his phrases. Shaw also often incorporated the chromatic scale, which gave his melodic lines a subtle fluidity that seemed to allow him to weave "in and out" of chords seamlessly from all "angles."
Shaw was also born with a photographic memory and perfect pitch. Max Roach once stated: "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."
Woody Shaw's improvisational and composing style bears the influences of his idols Eric Dolphy, John Coltrane and McCoy Tyner, as well as many European modern classical and 20th century composers, such as Bela Bartok, Zoltán Kodály, Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg, Anton Webern, Erik Satie, Alexander Scriabin, Carlos Chavez, Ernest Bloch, Olivier Messiaen, Paul Hindemith, Charles Ives, Edgar Varese, Igor Stravinsky, Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Colin McPhee and others. Shaw also listened closely to traditional Japanese music, Indonesian Gamelan, Indian classical music, Brazilian music, and various other musics of the world.
Educator and clinician 
Throughout his career, Woody Shaw gave countless clinics, master classes and private lessons to students around the world.
During the 1970s, he and Joe Henderson were faculty members in Jamey Aebersold's jazz camp.
NEA Grant-recipients who studied with Woody Shaw include:
- Wynton Marsalis, Musical Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center
- Ingrid Monson, Quincy Jones Professor of African American Music, Harvard University
Other students and apprentices:
Admiration among musicians 
As a musician and trumpeter, Shaw was held in remarkably high esteem by his colleagues and is today seen as one of the most technically and harmonically advanced trumpet players in the history of jazz and of the instrument itself. Miles Davis, a notoriously harsh critic of fellow musicians, once said of Shaw: "Now there's a great trumpet player. He can play different from all of them." Trumpeter Dave Douglas states: "It's not only the brilliant imagination that captivates with Woody Shaw - it's how natural those fiendishly difficult lines feel... Woody Shaw is now one of the most revered figures for trumpeters today." Shaw is credited with having extended the harmonic and technical vocabulary of the trumpet. Upon hearing of Shaw's death in 1989, Wynton Marsalis stated: "Woody added to the vocabulary of the trumpet. His whole approach influenced me tremendously."
Throughout his life, Woody Shaw travelled all over Europe, moving to Paris, France at the young age of 19 following an invitation from Eric Dolphy. As a sideman with Max Roach, he traveled to Iran in 1969. He also toured such places as Japan, England, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Brussels, and the Czech Republic.
During a 1980s State Department Tour, Shaw ventured eastward to such countries as Egypt, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates. Most recently, it has been discovered that Shaw spent significant time performing and giving clinics in India, working in such historic cities as New Delhi, Bombay, Bangalore, and Calcutta. When asked by film producer Chuck France in an interview whether he thought traveling was important, Shaw adamantly responded: "Most definitely. I think every great artist should share his music with the world."
As leader 
- 1965: "In the Beginning" (Muse) with Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, Larry Young, Ron Carter, Paul Chambers, Joe Chambers
- 1971: Blackstone Legacy (Contemporary Records) with Ron Carter, Clint Houston, Lenny White, George Cables, Gary Bartz, Bennie Maupin
- 1972: Song of Songs (OJC) with Bennie Maupin, George Cables, Steve Turre, Cecil McBee, Onaje Allan Gumbs
- 1974: The Moontrane (Muse) with Azar Lawrence, Cecil McBee, Buster Williams
- 1975: San Francisco Express (Reynolds) with Patrick Gleeson, Julian Priester, Norman Williams
- 1976: Love Dance (Muse) with Steve Turre, Billy Harper, Joe Bonner, Cecil McBee, Victor Lewis, Guilherme Franco
- 1976: Little Red's Fantasy (32 Jazz) with Ronnie Mathews, Stafford James, Frank Strozier, Eddie Moore
- 1977: Rosewood (Columbia) with Steve Turre, Joe Henderson, Victor Lewis
- 1978: Stepping Stones: Live at the Village Vanguard (Columbia) with Carter Jefferson, Onaje Allan Gumbs, Clint Houston, Victor Lewis, Steve Turre
- 1981: The Iron Men (Muse) with Anthony Braxton, Cecil McBee, Arthur Blythe, Muhal Richard Abrams, Joe Chambers, Victor Lewis)
- 1981: United (CBS/Sony - reissued on CD by Wounded Bird Records in 2011) with Mulgrew Miller, Steve Turre, Stafford James, Tony Reedus, Gary Bartz)
- 1982: Lotus Flower (Enja) with Steve Turre, Mulgrew Miller
- 1983: Setting Standards (Muse) with Cedar Walton, Buster Williams, Victor Jones
- 1985: Double Take with Freddie Hubbard, Cecil McBee, Carl Allen, Mulgrew Miller and Kenny Garrett
- 1986: Solid (Camden) with Kenny Garrett, Kenny Barron, Kirk Lightsey, Peter Leitch
- 1987: The Eternal Triangle with Freddie Hubbard, Ray Drummond, Carl Allen, Mulgrew Miller and Kenny Garrett
- 1987: Imagination (32 Jazz, reissued on Savoy Jazz in 2003) with Steve Turre, Kirk Lightsey, Ray Drummond, Carl Allen
- 1997: Bemsha Swing Live (Blue Note Records) with Geri Allen, Robert Hurst and Roy Brooks, recorded at Baker's Keyboard Lounge in 1986, released posthumously in 1997.
As sideman 
With Gary Bartz
- Home (1969)
With Art Blakey
- Child's Dance (1972)
- Anthenagain (1973)
- Buhania (1973)
With Roy Brooks
- Duet in Detroit (1983)
With Chick Corea
With Nathan Davis
- Peace Treaty (1965)
- Happy Girl (1965)
With Eric Dolphy
With Booker Ervin
With Sonny Fortune
- Serengeti Minstral (1977)
With Kenny Garrett
- Introducing Kenny Garrett (1984)
With Benny Golson
- Time Speaks (1982)
With Dexter Gordon
- Homecoming (1976–79)
- Sophisticated Giant (1977)
- Gotham City (1981)
With George Gruntz
- For Flying Out Proud (1977)
- GG-CJB (1978)
With Lionel Hampton
- Music of Charles Mingus (1977)
With Louis Hayes
- Ichi-Ban (1976) with Junior Cook
- Lausanne 1977 (1977)
- The Real Thing (1977)
With Joe Henderson
- At the Lighthouse (1970)
With Andrew Hill
With Bobby Hutcherson
With Azar Lawrence
- Bridge into the New Age (1974)
With Jackie McLean
With Hank Mobley
With Pharoah Sanders
With Horace Silver
With McCoy Tyner
- Expansions (1968)
With Mal Waldron
- The Git Go - Live at the Village Vanguard (Soul Note, 1986)
- The Seagulls of Kristiansund (Soul Note, 1986)
With Tyrone Washington
- Natural Essence (1967)
With Harry Whitaker
- Black Renaissance (1976)
With Buster Williams
- Pinnacle (1975)
With Larry Young
- Unity (1965)
With Joe Zawinul
- Zawinul (1970)
- Goldsher, Alan. Hard Bop Academy: The Sidemen of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. p. 31. Retrieved 5 March 2010. "[Brian] Lynch nicely summed up Woody's significance, saying, 'Woody Shaw was the last innovator in the trumpet lineage.'"
- Shaw III, Woody. "The Official Woody Shaw Website: Biography". Retrieved 5 March 2010.
- Collar, Matt. "Woody Shaw Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 5 March 2010.
- Berg, Cuck. "Woody Shaw: Trumpet In Bloom". Retrieved 5 March 2010.
- Gibert, Lois. "Interview with Woody Shaw, WRVR, 1978". Retrieved 5 March 2010.
- A Brief History, Newark Arts High School. Accessed August 10, 2008
- Peña, Tomas. "A Dialogue with Trumpet Player, Producer, Composer, Arranger - Tony Lujan".
- Parker, Jeffrey. "Woody Shaw Obituary". Retrieved 5 March 2010.
- Feather, Leonard (December 1982), "Miles Davis' Miraculous Recovery From Stroke", Ebony (Johnson): 64, retrieved 4 March 2010
- Douglas, Dave (19 September 2008). "Woody Shaw, 1979". The Greenleaf Music Blog. Greenleaf Music. Retrieved 17 March 2012.
- France, Chuck. "Jazz In Exile". Retrieved 5 March 2010.
- Dulzo, Jim, "Roy Brooks: Hard Bob, hard time", Jazz Times (October 2002)
- Shoemaker, Bill, "Jazz Reviews: Bemsha Swing", Jazz Times (December 1997)
- Official Woody Shaw Website
- Woody Shaw discography at Discogs.
- Woody Shaw at Allmusic.
- Woody Shaw at All About Jazz.