Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lee Shaw Holds Forth Swingingly in Reutlingen

When you review upwards of 550 CDs a year (on my two main blogs), plus quite a few for Cadence and my third blog, you can find yourself struggling to avoid the generic sorts of descriptions one can easily fall into. Take today's selection, the Lee Shaw Trio plus guests Live at Art Gallery Reutlingen (Artists Recording Collective 2239). It's a perfectly nice date, exceptional for the rapport that pianist Shaw develops with guest baritonist Michael Lutzeier and tenorman Johannes Enders. It's a live straightahead jazz date with standards (like "Falling in Love Again") jazz classics (like Ornette's "Turnaround"), an original or two....On the surface of things it's like hundreds of releases I get for review every year.

So what to say? More bop and beyond? Yes it is. Hard swinging by Shaw and her seasoned trio of Rich Syracuse (bass) and Siege Siegel (drums)? Yes, true. Some hard bopping baritone by Lutzeier? True. Exceptionally so. Solid mainstream tenor from Johannes Ender? Yes. Well recorded with the live you-are-there excitement that a club can generate? No doubt. Shaw is a driving force? She is. Drummer Siegel kicks butt in his own way, like some of the masters Philly Joe and Art? That's true.

ALL of that is true. If I ended the review there you would say, "OK another one of those sorts of CDs." And you would be right. So why should you care, with hundreds upon hundreds of similar CDs coming out every year that are like this? Are they doing the old style any better or even as well as the masters of the music who did this 40 years ago? I don't know. They aren't cloning and copying solos. It's still a case of pure improvisation.

Finally I am left with this. Shaw and her cohorts still show the passion and drive, the love and concern for this music when so many others seem to be going through the motions. In the end it is NOT a typical outing. It is bop with b_lls, mainstream with a mania to express, straight-ahead music that has not gotten stuck, that moves ahead with sincere and honest playing at a high level. If it weren't for that I would not have covered it. It's damned fine music. That's all I can say.

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