The Tour Volume One
Word of a release of a previously unissued recording by the Louis Hayes-Junior Cook Quintet from a 1976 tour was the cause of great anticipation. Released under trumpeter Woody Shaw's name, that reflects the fact that the late Shaw became subsequently one of the most brilliant trumpeters, composers and band-leaders of the seventies and eighties. Not long after this European tour, saxophonist Cook left and Shaw took over as co-leader with Rene McLean (Jackie's son) replacing him, but with the same rhythm section of the highly under-appreciated pianist, Ronnie Matthews, Stafford James on bass and Louis Hayes on drum making for one of the most formidable rhythm sections of that times. I saw the Hayes-Shaw band at the original downstairs Tralfamadore Cafe in Buffalo in winter 1976-1977 and there is a live recording of the Hayes-Shaw group from Lausanne Switzerland from 1977 available.
That 1977 recording is very good indeed, but this March 19676 recording simply has become my favorite Shaw recording, opening with "Moontrane," which Shaw wrote when he was 18 and had recorded with organist Larry Young. Explosive is an understatement of this performance with Matthews really playing a such a high level, and then listening to James under the Shaw's solo while Hayes pushes things along. Things don't cool at all on Larry Young's "Obsequious," which features Cook's hot playing followed by Shaw along with the astounding rhythm section. Things cool down just so slightly on a terrific rendition of Walter Booker's up-tempo bossa/samba, "Book's Bossa," before the band takes flight again on pianist Matthews' burner "Ichi-ban" (the title track of a studio album the group made). This stellar recording closes with a standard by Bronislaw Kaper, "Invitation," which gets a very personalized interpretation by this group.
Listening to Shaw here one cannot help but be astonished by his ability to compose his ideas at such a fast tempo, the brilliant execution, articulation of his playing and the warmth of his tone. It is why such major trumpeters of today as Brian Lynch and Terrence Blanchard regard Shaw and his legacy so highly. Of course when you add the more than impressive playing of Cook, and the superb rhythm section that characterized what was, in it somewhat brief existence, one of the great jazz groups of seventies. Woody Shaw III, Woody's son contributes the liner notes in the accompanying booklet for this CD release which is available as a pdf file on the iTunes download of this CD (which is where I purchased this). I do not know if the liner notes accompany downloads from other sites. With the superb music here, one hopes that Volume 2 will be coming out shortly, as this music here is that good.
This was an iTunes purchase as mentioned in the review. This review originally appeared in the September-October 2016 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 368). Here is a video of this group with Joe Henderson in place of Junior Cook from 1976.