Woody Shaw’s sound and musical ideas are unmistakeable. Check him out in the videos below, then click through to his 1983 Downbeat interview.
One of the first things he said knocked me out: everybody, no matter how advanced, is learning or trying to learn. We’re all on the same path, just in different places. It’s the cats that are really great that have an undying hunger to learn more, to play more, to be more. Such an inspiration.
Linda Reitman: By what criteria did you choose your present band members?
WS: I chose each member on the basis that I heard their potential, the fact that they believed in me and respected me as a leader, and the fact that I could learn from them as well. That was the key to the success of musicians like Art Blakey and Horace Silver. As a leader, you acquire and use the knowledge that you’ve experienced. So I go on the basis that I can teach a musician, if he lets me, but I also have to get something in return and learn from him. That’s one of the keys to being a bandleader. You surround yourself with musicians who inspire you. Many people have mentioned that each member of my band is uniquely qualified to distinguish himself. Now that’s something that I also demand of my musicians. I have found that the acceptance of my quintet has been overwhelming, and I believe that’s partly due to the blend of trumpet and trombone. It’s a very unique and innovative sound for today.
full 90 minute set from ’79
and as a bonus, check out one of th members of WS’s quintet, trombonist Steve Turre, who also plays….wait for it….conch shells. Check him out playing the Miles Davis tune All Blues: