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Collection a fitting tribute to jazz great

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Trumpeter Woody Shaw was a towering, influential figure in jazz, if not exactly a household name like, say, contemporary Freddie Hubbard.

His career spanned three decades -- the '60s, '70s and '80s -- and much of the music he recorded was on the Muse label. Those nine albums have been released as a seven-CD limited edition set by Mosaic Records, the acknowledged longtime master collector and issuer of boxed sets by jazz greats.

Shaw, who had been diagnosed with incurable degenerative eye disease, died in 1989 from complications after an accident where he was hit by a subway car in Brooklyn, which severed his left arm.

Shaw had a love of the avant-garde and his 1970s albums -- The Moontrane (1974), Love Dance (1975), Concert Ensemble Live at the Berliner Jazzstage (1976), Little Red's Fantasy (1976) and Iron Men (1977) -- were considered a bridge between '60s hard bop, which he was well-versed in as a member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, and the '70s free jazz movement.

The nine albums are grouped into three distinct periods of Shaw's 1974-1987 output: his concert ensemble from 1974-76, which is heavy on brass and percussion; the trumpeter leading a quintet; and the mid- to late-'80s when Shaw returned to more standard fare. The Mosaic set also includes a 1965 session recorded for Blue Note but not released until Muse issued it in the '80s.

That Blue Note session, Cassandranite, is a gem with Shaw backed by two great lineups: Joe Henderson (tenor saxophone), Larry Young (piano), Ron Carter (bass) and Joe Chambers (drums); and Henderson, Herbie Hancock (piano), Paul Chambers (bass) and drummer Chambers.

Disc 3 captures Shaw fronting a septet of trombonist Slide Hampton, alto saxophonist Rene McLean, tenor saxophonist Frank Foster, pianist Ronnie Mathews, bassist Stafford James and drummer Louis Hayes at the 1976 Berlin Jazz Festival.

This is a great live recording -- the band is wailing and it's one of those cases where you feel like you're in the audience. Bilad As Sudan (Land Of The Blacks), the closer, really stands out.

Early in his career, Shaw performed and recorded with some of jazz's greats such as Eric Dolphy, Bud Powell, Johnny Griffin, Horace Silver, Chick Corea, Jackie McLean, McCoy Tyner and Max Roach.

The musicians on the Mosaic set make up a jazz who's who.

Shaw walked among the ranks of jazz's best, being influenced by many of them and in turn influencing a later generation, including the "Young Lions" who came on the scene in the 1980s with trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. He was often referred to as the last innovator in the jazz trumpet lineage.

The Mosaic set has good remastering and good, informative liner notes by Shaw's son, Woody Shaw III, an enthnomusicologist and curator of his father's work.

At US$119 (available only from this set isn't for novices. But it is a great tribute to a great trumpeter, bandleader and composer.


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A Tuesday concert (July 16, 8 p.m., $10) at Centre culturel franco-manitobain is billed as a CD release for Farewell 274: Winnipeg's Music Community Celebrates Aqua Books, but it's also a chance to say goodbye to drummer Curtis Nowosad, who performed on and produced the CD, before he leaves to pursue a masters degree at the Manhattan School of Music.

If you know any Winnipeg jazz musicians, you know Nowosad and the talented, hard-working drummer deserves a good sendoff.


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Winnipeg singer Amber Epp is holding a backyard party to raise funds for her new CD, to be released in November.

The fundraiser is on July 21, 2:30 p.m., with a suggested donation of $20, and you can RSVP at

Epp says: "This CD will feature some original compositions, well-loved jazz standards, and a couple of Joni Mitchell tunes. Yes, there will be some Latin music, but it will definitely have more of a jazz focus this time around."

The singer, known for her work with Latin group Trio Bembe, will record with bassist Steve Kirby, guitarist Larry Roy, drummer Quincy Davis and special guests trumpeter Derrick Gardner and percussionist Scott Senior.

More information on the concert and how to donate online is available at

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 13, 2013 D3

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