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Live In Graz by Lee Shaw Trio

Many excellent jazz musicians go relatively unnoticed in their careers. Well known and respected among fellow players, they often settle down to playing gigs locally, away from mainstream notice, while recording occasionally. Such a person is pianist Lee Shaw.

Now at 82, Shaw's jazz chops are still well-honed as heard in the new release Lee Shaw Trio: Live in Graz, recorded in Graz, Austria. Included with the CD is a DVD which features footage and stills from the trio's 2007 European tour, plus a bonus track not included on the CD. The real value of the footage, though, is seen in interviews with Shaw, both alone and with her longtime colleagues, bassist Rich Syracuse and drummer Jeff Siegel.

Born in Oklahoma in 1926, Shaw left for Chicago to study classical music but soon turned to jazz. She married drummer Stan Shaw, formed a trio and went on to New York City. The two moved to Albany in the seventies where she began a career in teaching music and the trio started playing around the area. After husband Stan died in 2001, she formed her current trio.

Over the years she has played with many greats from Dexter Gordon to Thad Jones. Her influences include Oscar Peterson and Billy Taylor. On this recording her stately style suggests Peterson, if not for his whirlwind technique but his swinging sensibility.

The trio is exemplary-bassist Syracuse weaving in and out of her solos, while getting plenty of time to show off his marvelous creativity. Also getting many opportunities to shine, drummer Siegel is a solid anchor and an inventive soloist.

The play list is a mixture of interesting, seldom-heard tunes, ranging from Billy Taylor’s "Easy Walker" (joyfully exhibiting her vibrant, straight-ahead style), Victor Young’s "Street of Dreams" (effectively conjuring an hypnotic spell, abetted by Syracuse’s strong bass) and Ahmad Jamahl’s "Night Mist" (wonderfully letting go, leading the group in an all-out effort, concluding with Siegel’s rocking drum solo).

Among Shaw’s outstanding compositions is the thoughtful, pensive "Song Without Words"; the impressionistic Debussy-like "Rain Threads" which includes Siegel’s cymbal shower; and her memoriam to husband Stan, "Stan’s Song," highlighted by Syracuse’s haunting bowed-bass solo.

This album is a treasure-waiting for jazz fans to find.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Lee Shaw Trio
  • CD Title: Live In Graz
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2008
  • Record Label: Arc (Artists Recording Collective)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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