VOICES Notes and news on Jazz releases
09 NOV 12 CHRIS SLAWECKI
If someone could play Song Of Songs (Original Jazz Classics, 1987) for you without telling you whose music it was, I'd almost dare you to NOT say you were listening to an undiscovered or rare gem by Miles Davis. Song Of Songs IS a rare, completely original gem of early 1970s trumpet fusion -- but it's from the mind and trumpet of Woody Shaw.
Shaw composed the furious and gentle, unshapely and beautiful Song Of Songs and recorded it in 1972 with an ensemble that includes pianist George Cable and three different tenor players, including Bennie Maupin. Cable carves the framework of the title track out of its shimmering African motifs -- like McCoy Tyner grounding and redoubling Coltrane's African flights -- while Shaw, screaming out notes that most likely don't even appear on his instrument, paints the sound in brilliant shades of red and blue. "Song Of Songs" doesn't end so much as it settles down to rest.
Maupin's tenor in "The Goat & The Archer" echoes Coltrane's searing, splintering sound in Davis' first great quintet, the early rumblings of subsequent explorations which sought to free be-bop into free-bop. "The Awakening" signifies the new forms of music -- multi-rhythmic and multicultural -- that would soon emerge from jazz, too.
Shaw's Concord catalog also features Blackstone Legacy (Contemporary, 1999), his debut as a leader and another prescient program recorded in 1970 with a literal "Who's Who" of jazz in the subsequent decade that includes Maupin, Ron Carter, Gary Bartz and Lenny White.