CD+DVD Reviews

Lee Shaw Trio – Live in Graz – CD Recorded at Café Stockwerk, Graz, Austria (77:23) + DVD (4:3 color) of live concert, bonus tracks, photos and interviews with Lee Shaw – ARC

This long overdue tribute to a great pianist belongs in every jazz collection.

Published on February 26, 2009

Lee Shaw Trio – Live in Graz – CD Recorded at Café Stockwerk, Graz, Austria (77:23) + DVD (4:3 color) of live concert, bonus tracks, photos and interviews with Lee Shaw – ARC
Lee Shaw Trio – Live in Graz – CD Recorded at Café Stockwerk, Graz, Austria (77:23) + DVD (4:3 color) of live concert, bonus tracks, photos and Interviews with Lee Shaw – ARC-2062 (www.leeshaw.org) *****:

Pianist Lee Shaw, born in Ada, Oklahoma in 1926, absorbed the “Great American Songbook” as it was created. Perhaps that explains her fresh and vibrant interpretive skill. She studied classical piano in Chicago and her solos often reflect that additional musical depth. Jazz soon became her passion and she began playing in clubs all over the city. It was there that she met the New York native drummer Stan Shaw whom she married. They formed a piano trio and eventually moved to New York, where they played at top venues such as Birdland. She resisted offers to play with such major bandleaders as Lionel Hampton, opting to focus on the trio with her husband. After their move to the Albany area, where Shaw has lived these past 30 years, they continued to play with the major musicians who came through town. After Stan’s death in 2001, Shaw began working with bassist Rich Syracuse and drummer Jeff Siegel. This is the Lee Shaw Trio and they are superb.

Upon learning that the Lee Shaw Trio would be performing in Graz, the Austrian Broadcast Company extended an invitation to record the concert for the radio. This CD comes from that recording and it is merely a portion of what the trio played that evening. At the Art Gallery (World of Basses) in Reutlingen Germany, they played for more than two hours, and some footage from that concert is presented on the accompanying DVD. Also on the DVD are some fascinating interviews with Shaw who recounts a personal history of jazz that is never less than insightful. The concert portion is filmed from the rear of the hall but visibility is passable, as is the sound.

The CD makes for splendid listening. The influence of Oscar Peterson is obvious in Shaw’s playing but she utterly transcends all influences. Years of experience as well as her classical training have created a unique style that is deep, harmonically daring and thematically sophisticated. Though her playing is often sumptuous Shaw is unafraid and will juxtapose passages of lyrically spare but still beautifully expressive moments that are utterly ravishing. Listen to Victor Young’s “Street of Dreams” or Ahmad Jamal’s lovely “Night Mist Blues” on the CD to hear Shaw’s brilliant pianism to great effect. Her five originals on the CD are all strong compositions as well. Bassist Rich Syracuse plays some splendidly inventive solos and drummer Jeff Siegel provides some thoroughly supple solos during his turns at bat.

Both CD and DVD make for wonderful listening. The personal reflections on jazz that grace the DVD only increase its value to the jazz aficionado. The CD sound is warm and natural with a close focus that highlights each instrument’s acoustics. Listen to Syracuse’s bowed bass on “Stan’s Song”, written as a tribute to her husband by Shaw, to appreciate the rich and natural recorded sound. The DVD is somewhat more remote in sound but quite well presented. This set is a long overdue tribute to a great pianist whose brilliant contribution to jazz is why the music always remains vibrant and fresh. This set belongs in every jazz fan’s collection. Most strongly recommended!

CD TrackList:

1. Easy Walker
2. Song Without Words
3. Elegy
4. Rain Threads
5. Street of Dreams
6. Foots
7. Stan’s Song
8. Night Mist Blues

- – Mike Birman
 
 




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