Gene Shaw (tp), Herb Wise (tb), Sherman Morrison, Jay Peters (ts), James Taylor (p), Sidney Robinson (b), Bernard Martin, Gerald Donovan (d)
Reference: FSRCD 926
Bar code: 8427328609265
First time on CD in STEREO
Hailing from Detroit, trumpeter Clarence Gene Shaw (1926-1973) is yet another jazzman who deserves much more recognition than he has received so far. He first arrived in the jazz world as Clarence Shaw, one of the members in the Charlie Mingus Jazz Workshop from 1955 to 1957. Mingus, in his liner notes for “Tijuana Moods” commented on the excellent work of his trumpeter. He wasn’t one to give praise easily, so when he singled out Shaw thus, people started paying close attention. The gist of the notes was that if the record had been issued in 1957 —when it was recorded— instead of in 1962, the trumpeter would have been by then as famous as “any of our current so-called jazz players.” Despite this, and after several vicissitudes, personal or otherwise, Shaw stopped playing and quit the scene for five years.
He showed up again with the belated 1962 release of “Tijuana Moods”, this time in Chicago as Gene Shaw, leading a hard-bop quintet. About his decision he simply said: “Mingus ended it; Mingus began it again”. His lyrical and relaxed style was almost a final refinement of the hard-bop trumpet idiom, and the unique qualities Mingus saw in this free spirit were given an intriguing showcase in these two albums, “Break Through” and “Debut in Blues”.
"If you’re a Charles Mingus fan (and if you aren’t, please explain yourself), you know that trumpeter Gene Shaw (1926-73) is probably his most obscure sideman. He did essentially a one-off with him, but that one session was the classic “Tijuana Moods” when he gives a sui generis workout on “Dizzy Moods” where he uses his cleaning of his mouthpiece as part of the solo. After that, what happened?
Well, Fresh Sound records brings back Shaw’s other sessions, while the album liner notes fill in the gaps. He lead a quintet in 1962 with Sherman Morrison/ts, James Taylor/p, Sidney Robinson/b and Bernard Martin, and the next hear had a sextet with Taylor, Robinson, Gerald Donovan/dr, Herb Wise/tb and Jay Peters/ts. Both sessions are wonderfully hip hard bop, with Shaw’s horn from the Kenny Dorham-Blue Mitchell School of gentle warmth. The quintet develops a hip strut with Shaw’s sweet tone on “AD’s Blues” and Morrison has a bluesy mid-career Coltrane tone as he blows smoke rings on the nimble Six Bits” with the rhythm team doing the mambo on “Marj.” Shaw’s horn cries on the Mingus-inspired “The Thing” and squeezes out notes on “It’s A Long Way.”
The sextet has Donovan laying down an exotic groove on “Karachi” and the team gets into a gospel soul thing as Shaw preaches on “Thieves’ Carnival.” Pieces like ‘When Sunny Gets Blue” and the bluesy “Not Too Cool” make you wonder why some label didn’t snatch Shaw up and put some promotion behind him. He may have slipped through the cracks back then, but Fresh Sound fills them up with grout so you don’t miss him this time around. Check it out!"
George W. Harris (June 26, 2017)