Pianist, composer, and bandleader Lee Shaw is a youthful octogenarian who has more energy, passion, and intellectual curiosity than many people a fraction of her age. She has had her own swinging, acoustic jazz piano trio for more than 40 years, during which time she performed in numerous clubs, concerts, and festivals in the United States and Europe. Her latest CD/DVD, Live in Graz, brings us face to face with this genius of jazz who is finally receiving her due.
Lee Shaw has laser-like musical intensity, true mastery of the piano, and her tonal palette is huge. Owen McNally of The Hartford Courant notes that Lee Shaw is, “a modest, irresistible person of immodest, irrepressible talent. She comes across both in the interview and at the keyboard as an artist who had a virtually religious calling for jazz, come what may.” Bill Milkowski, in Jazz Times, observes , "her harmonic language is expansive, her time impeccable, her touch divine."
Born in Cushing, Oklahoma in 1926, she grew up in Ada,Oklahoma. Shaw learned the "American Songbook" tunes when they were new. She had a voracious appetite for music of all kinds: "I loved music, and I wanted to carry it with me wherever I went. That's why I was really happy when tape recorders came along!" She graduated from the Oklahoma college for Women and earned her Master’s Degree in piano from the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, but the lure of jazz came strong, and soon she was playing in clubs all over the city.
It was in Chicago that she met drummer Stan Shaw, and they formed a piano trio. Shortly after their marriage in 1962, the couple moved to Puerto Rico, and while there Lee studied with Jesu Maria Sanroma at Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico. She credits her club and concert playing during this period for the influence Latin music has had on her composing and playing. A year later the couple moved to New York, playing their first gig at The Embers. Other city engagements included the Village Vanguard, the Half Note, Minton's Playhouse and other clubs in Harlem.
The trio also performed at the Apollo theatre, the benefit for the Dr. Martin Luther King march on Washington.
Over the years, Shaw studied with Oscar Peterson, taught piano to John Medeski, and worked with countless jazz luminaries including Arnie Lawrence, Frank Foster, Pepper Adams, Zoot Simms, Al Cohn, Al Grey, Richard Davis, Slam Stewart, Eddie Jones, Eugene Wright, and Jymie Merritt. Bandleaders such as Lionel Hampton, asked her to join their groups, but she turned down these offers in order to focus on the trio. In 1993 she was inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame.
Eventually Lee and Stan moved to Albany, New York as they continued to play with big name musicians near home and on the road. In the mid 1990s, Lee and bassist Rich Syracuse began playing as a duo because of Stan's increasing disability. Jeff (Siege) Siegel joined as drummer after Stan's death in 2001, and a new incarnation of the trio formed.
The Lee Shaw Trio has appeared at the Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. New York state performances include Hyde Museum, Saugerties Pro Musica, Adirondack Community College, Wall Street Jazz Festival, North Pointe Cultural Arts Center, Spencertown Academy, and two appearances at the Lake George Jazz Festival, and Rensselaerville Institute. Capital District concert dates include Schenectady Museum, SUNY Albany, the concert series A Place for Jazz, and their CD release concert in the new Massry Center for the Arts. In Oklahoma, the trio has played at Oklahoma Central University, and twice at the East Central University, and University of Science and Arts. In 2006, Lee Shaw and bassist Rich Syracuse played a concert at Steinway Hall in San Jose, California. Lee has also appeared on Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz program, and NPR hailed her, along with McPartland, and the late Mary Lou Williams, as “one of jazz’s premier pianists.”
In 2007 the trio embarked on their three country tour in Europe, where they performed concerts in Austria, Switzerland, and Germany. One of the Austrian concerts was recorded by the Austrian Broadcast Company and became the centerpiece of their 2008 release "Live in Graz" CD/DVD. The German concert, held at the art gallery and concert hall, World of Basses in Reutlingen, prompted owner and musical instrument dealer Tobias Festl to organize the Lee Shaw Jazz Festival for September of 2008. This unique venue draws together an eclectic mix of visual arts and jazz, and in performance allows for a cultural exchange of musicians from around the world. Guest appearances at the Lee Shaw Jazz Festival included noted European musicians Nils Wogram, Torsten Goodes, Julian Wasserfuhr, Cecile Vendry, and Harry Sokol. The trio returned to Europe in May of 2009 playing concerts in Vienna, and various venues in Germany. They also recorded with three European musicians from their 2007 tour, and this will be released as their newest CD in 2010.
Area dates within the last year include the Tribute to Nick Brignola at The Van Dyke, Albany Jazz Festival, concert at The Egg with John Medeski, and Tribute to Lee Shaw at the Cohoes Music Hall. The trio’s latest CD “Blossom” was released in June.
Since 1983, Lee has been adjunct faculty at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York, and also instructs privately. Lee is an ardently passionate teacher. "So many jazz musicians have been so generous to me in the past. The only way I can truly thank them is to pass on to my students what I learned from them. "
During the Lee Shaw Jazz Festival in Reutlingen, Germany in 2007, Armin Knaver noted in a profile of Lee that “playing before the public is not a stressor for her, but a wellspring of pure energy.” Lee Shaw herself adds “As long as it’s so much fun for me, I’ll keep on.”
STRING BASSIST, ELECTRIC BASSIST, COMPOSER
Rich Syracuse has been a mainstay on the New York area scene for more than two decades. For several years, he performed in the Nick Brignola Quartet playing clubs, festivals, and recording sessions. Besides his years with Brignola, he has performed with Mose Allison, Brubeck Brothers, Randy Brecker, Warren Bernhardt, Sumi Tonoka, David Torn, Mike DeMicco, Peter Levin, Sam Morrison, Jimmy Cobb, Bernard Purdy, Adam Nussbaum, Jeff Siegel, Eddie Henderson, Jeff "Tain" Watts and several others.
Rich is the Adjunct Professor for String and Electric Bass Studies at Skidmore College, and performs with the College Orchestra in Saratoga, New York. Rich is also the Bass instructor at the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut, and teaches privately. Rich repairs and restores Bass instruments at his studio in Saugerties, New York. He has toured throughout Europe and Southern Africa. As well as touring, Rich is an in-demand Bassist throughout the northeast region of the USA. For the past 18 years, Rich has been the Bassist for Pianist Lee Shaw.
JEFF "SIEGE" SIEGEL
Drummer Jeff “Siege” Siegel has performed and/or recorded with a diverse group of jazz artists ranging from veteran performers such as Kenny Burrell, Ron Carter, Benny Golson, , Wadada Leo Smith, Jack DeJohnette, Baikida Carroll and Mose Allison to those a generation below such as Dave Douglas, Ravi Coltrane, Stefon Harris, Kurt Elling, Graham Haynes and Steve Turre.
Jeff (Seige) was a member of the Sir Roland Hanna Trio from 1994-1999. He joined Rich Syracuse and Lee Saw in the Lee Shaw Trio in 2001. He is the leader of The Jeff “Siege” Siegel Quartet.
He has been described by Jazz World Magazine as a “brilliant drummer”. His 2005 debut cd as a bandleader “Magical Spaces” on the CAP label was critically acclaimed by several publications including Cadence, All Music Guide, Jazz Improv, and several others. Veteran Jazz Artist Jimmy Heath recently noted ..."Jeff's musicality is incredible. He is so tasty as a percussionist and he has become a fine composer/arranger”.
A sampling of Siege’s discography includes: Ryan Kisor’s Minor Mutiny (Columbia) and Arthur Rhames Trio Live From Soundscape (DIW). Jeff is also on the faculties of S.U.N.Y. at New Paltz as well as Western Connecticut State University, and The New School, New York.
He is an endorsing artist for Vic Firth Drumsticks.
2008: Centennial Celebrations Award as One of Ten Highly Successful Women Graduates; University of Art and Science (formerly Oklahoma College for Women); Chickasha, Oklahoma
2008: Lee Shaw Jazz Festival; Art Gallery (World of Basses); Reutlingen, Germany
2005: Certificate of Recognition for Excellence as “Musician, Jazz Educator, Superb Pianist, and Teacher”; Albany Musicians Association; Albany, New York
2002: Honorary Doctorate; College of Saint Rose; Albany, New York
2001: Swingtime Lifetime Achievement Award; Swingtime Jazz Society; Troy, New York
1999: Alumni Hall of Fame, Induction; University of Science and Art; Chickasha, Oklahoma
1993: Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, Induction; Tulsa, Oklahoma
Lee Shaw - piano
Rich Syracuse - bass
Jeff "Siege" Siegel - drums
"BLOSSOM" - ARC
(Artists Recording Collective)
Produced by Jeff "Seige" Seigel & Rich Syracuse
“LIVE IN GRAZ “ – ARC (Artists Recording Collective)
The Live at Graz CD/DVD collection is co-produced by Jeff (Siege) Siegel and Rich Syracuse. It’s comprised of audio recordings, video footage, and still photography from their 2007 European Tour and subsequent interviews. The Austrian Broadcast Company recorded a two hour concert at Café Stockwerk in Graz, Austria, and portions of that concert make up the CD. Five of the eight songs that are Lee Shaw originals are a testament to her formidable gifts as a composer. Although she had composed for decades, it was only at Rich Syracuse’s urging that Lee began performing these pieces publicly.
The concert footage on the DVD confirms what is clear on the CD; this is an incredibly tight trio that plays with real telepathy. Each of Shaw's solos is a self-contained musical journey in which a perfect narrative arc is created. The solos often arise from the smallest melodic seeds, which then bear spectacular fruit. Her band mates are always right behind her, reacting to every turn.
“ORIGINALS” – Island View Records
“LITTLE FRIEND” – Luvlee records
“A PLACE FOR JAZZ” -- Cadence Records
“ESSENCE” -- CIMP
“LEE SHAW OK!” – Cadence Records
First Lady of Jazz
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Capital Region’s First Lady of Jazz Lee Shaw makes every song new, sees her trio and listeners ...Capital Region’s
First Lady of Jazz
Lee Shaw makes every song new, sees her trio and listeners as family.
Schenectady, New York
Sunday, March 7, 2010
By Jeff Wilkin
Lee Shaw plays at the Stockade Inn with bassist Rich Syracuse, right, who has played with Shaw for over 17 years.
Friday night at Schenectady’s Stockade Inn, and people sit in elegant, high-backed chairs by the fireplace.
Others chat on dark green sofas near the front of the room, legs tucked behind long coffee tables. More people are at the bar, sipping cosmopolitans and martinis from conical glasses with long stems.
Some conversation stops when Lee Shaw is ready at her piano. She and her longtime companions, bassist Rich Syracuse and drummer Jeff “Siege” Siegel, begin a Dave Brubeck composition; you can feel the reverence and respect in the room, from people who want to see sure hands in action and hear sure jazz swirl throughout the room.
Pianist Lee Shaw, the Capital Region's first lady of jazz, performs at the Stockade Inn in Schenectady
Cohoes resident Shaw has both. She’s spent 40 years with her own trio, and her career behind ivory keys has taken her to clubs, concerts and festivals throughout the United States and Europe. She has been described as the Capital Region’s first lady of jazz.
“It’s very flattering,” she says of the title. “And I think that name was used to refer to Marian McPartland for a long time. It does have a nice ring to it.”
The Lee Shaw Trio, featuring Lee Shaw on keyboards, Rich Seymour on bass and Jeff Siegel on drums, performs at The Stockade Inn in Schenectady.
Shaw, dressed this night in a bright red jacket and black slacks, is generous with her time — spending nearly an hour answering questions about her life, even as the 7 p.m. appointment with the piano ticks closer.
Thinking as one
She answers quickly about retirement.
“Why?” she asks. “What’s better than what I do, to learn and grow? My bassist and I have been together coming on 18 years. Jeff, the drummer, has been with us for nine years. I think both of them are extremely talented and creative, and sometimes it’s almost as though I’m listening to them tell me where to go. One of the things many critics have noted is we seem to be a family, we seem to think as one person. And that is very rewarding and stimulating and wonderful. It’s like when you fall in love with somebody and that person is able to read your mind.”
Shaw’s life has been full of the rewarding, the stimulating, the wonderful. She was born in Cushing, Okla., in 1926 and was raised in Ada, Oklahoma’s Bible Belt country.
Music was an early love. Shaw began playing piano at age 5, studying classical methods and graduating from the Oklahoma College for Women with a bachelor’s degree. She later received a master’s degree at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago.
Her only exposure to jazz as a teenager was on the radio, where she first heard Art Tatum and a cocktail pianist named Cy Walter. By the 1950s, she was working as a cocktail pianist in clubs all over Chicago.
The joy of jazz
“My booking agent took me to hear Count Basie one time and my line is, ‘I died and went to heaven,’?” she said. “And I started all over again because I knew absolutely none of the vocabulary. But the swing, the joy! I was going to be a professional accompanist. I was a dynamite sight reader and I’d done a lot of accompanying in my life. The only jazz I ever heard in Oklahoma was big band and I didn’t even consider that to be jazz.”
She began to listen to pianist Oscar Peterson, and that led her to pianist George Shearing. “This would have been in the late 1950s, early 1960s, so all the people who were around at that time were people who influenced me.”
Music consumed whole days, week after week.
“I had so much to learn,” Shaw said. “I was working five nights a week solo in Chicago. I’d get up in the morning, 10 o’clock, have a cup of coffee, go to the piano and sit there until it was time to have my dinner, dress and go to my gig at night. And I did that over and over. I had some help, there was this bassist who helped me a lot. He’d bring his bass and try to teach me the vocabulary and voicing. I also studied for a little while with a man named Alan Swain.”
The musician wasn’t on her own after meeting drummer Stan Shaw in Chicago. They formed a piano trio and, after a 1962 wedding, a personal duo.
The Shaws moved to Puerto Rico shortly after their marriage, where Lee studied at the Conservatorio de Musica de Puerto Rico. The couple were in New York City a year later, filling the stage at The Embers, Village Vanguard, the Half Note and other places. The Shaws moved to Albany in 1971 and made fans. The fans and friends connection is one of the nicest things about the music business.
“It’s very gratifying and you get to know them, some of them,” Shaw said. “Many of them become friends, so it goes beyond being fans.”
Sometimes, friends suggest opportunities.
“When my husband and I .?.?. had been here maybe three or four years and we met someone who became a devoted fan and he said ‘How would you like to spend six weeks in New Orleans?’ He arranged it. There was somebody playing at a hotel called the Chateau LeMoyne, right on the edge of Bourbon Street, and this pianist wanted to leave his gig for six weeks. We spent six wonderful weeks there, so sometimes fans become friends and very, very helpful.”
After each jazzy song at the Stockade, Shaw and her partners received applause from the 40 people watching and listening. That’s something musicians always appreciate.
“What they’re giving you is approval and sometimes, depending on the degree of it, love,” Shaw said. “It’s very satisfying .?.?. I think I’ve always been very critical of myself, which is not a bad thing to do.”
Maybe too critical. Shaw said she believes she has become a “novelty” in jazz clubs. She thinks some people come to her shows to see a woman in her 80s play the piano.
“I can’t tell you how many women walk up to me and say, ‘You’re such an inspiration,’?” she said. “I shouldn’t be an inspiration. There should be lots and lots of people like me.”
But people have better manners than they used to.
“It’s been about 30 years since I’ve heard, ‘Gee, you play good for a girl,’?” she said. “I heard that all the time, so did all of us. The women’s movement in the ’70s obliterated a lot of that.”
She keeps playing. And keeps learning.
“I am very interested in the music, and I’ve done a lot of research on the music,” Shaw said. “I would say I know who wrote every song that I play but I look things up. Today I looked up the composers of two tunes, and I do this all the time. I’m interested in not just the music, but how did the music get to be the music? That is one way of communicating with an audience; the teacher in me comes out.”
Learning means books. Shaw has always been happy to read and develop understanding, and not only for music. When she and Stan were first married, she didn’t know much about cooking.
“I would bring books home,” she said. “We couldn’t afford to eat in restaurants to eat the things I’d read about. I learned how to make bagels. For many, many, years every Sunday morning, I made a dozen bagels. I learned to sew. I gardened. I used to love to look like a mud pie gardening.”
Shaw has seen changes in musical tastes, and not all of those changes have been good for jazz players.
“The big change in jazz, I think, came in the 1960s when the Beatles arrived,” she said. “All of the young possible fans said, ‘I don’t want to listen to my father’s music. I want to listen to this music.’ We were living in New York at the time, and it was a very bad time for jazz musicians. Clubs, many of them, removed the pianos and removed the sound systems because the rock musicians had their own stuff.”
But things change. And life in 2010 is easier for people who appreciate jazz pianists and experts on brass and woodwinds. In the Capital Region, places like the Stockade Inn and Justin’s in Albany offer jazz on a regular basis.
“This area is so rich in opportunities for musicians, and you wouldn’t really think so,” Shaw said. “I think part of the reason is there’s Albany, Schenectady, Troy, Saratoga, Ballston Spa, all these places crowded together and it seems to offer more opportunities.”
Ahmad Jamal, Billy Taylor, Cole Porter and Howard Arlen are all on the Shaw set list. “I’m always looking for new ways of doing old material,” she said.
Favorite songs? All of them.
“Burton Lane, from ‘Finian’s Rainbow,’ wrote ‘When I’m Not Near the Girl I Love, I Love the Girl I’m Near,’?” Shaw said. “That’s my answer. Whatever tune I’m playing is my favorite one. I’m looking for things, what can I do that’s different, what can I do that I’ve discovered that still sounds good that I can do?”
Shaw said she’s at the gym three times a week. She loves dark chocolate, but not lately.
“I’ve been saying no to myself when I go to the grocery store,” Shaw said. “For the past three weeks I’ve come home with no chocolate because I gained a little weight and I don’t like to gain a little weight. That’s one of the benefits that the arts give, I think, to learn so much about how to live.”
“Blossom” Review Excerpts
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“Blossom” Review Excerpts all about jazz “Blossom” Review Jeff Dayton-Johnson...“Blossom”
all about jazz
November 4, 2009
“Curiously, it happened that one of the most exciting “young” pianists on the scene today is an 80-something year old woman named Lee Shaw. Shaw’s playing has an energy and freshness that sounds great alongside other new rising stars of the piano-trio idiom.
Shaw’s “Blossom” is a tune that Bill Evans would have loved to play, and the fact that he never will be rued, the lovely version here is wonderful compensation.”
Michael G. Nastos
Jazz pianist Lee Shaw is experiencing a career renaissance past her 80th birthday. A refined and intimate performer on her instrument, Shaw is not only reaping the rewards of her mature sound and voicings, but she is adding new material to a repertoire that is already quite expansive… Lee Shaw has much more left in the tank to draw upon on any given enchanted evening. “Blossom”… comes highly recommended to those who enjoy witty, well-rendered jazz that has no need for bluster or boisterousness.
[In “Blossom”] the joy of playing is clearly transmitted. The impressionistic tinted title track of Blossom is followed by two diverse bluesy interpretations: Fats Navarro’s “Fats Blues” and her own composition “Blues 11”. Her own number sounds slightly more mysterious than the lively Fats Blues. Her “Holiday” then again is both sparkling and tuneful. Syracuse’s “Cool Jack” is deliciously up-tempo and Siege’s “Shifting Sands” is a gentle sweet waltz. Very surprising is “Virtuoso Rag” written by the long forgotten Johnny Gunarieri, three minutes solo piano perfection. The record is concluded with the subtle “Nipper’s Dream”. An absolute must!
The well balanced CD covers the usual mainstream bases… She performs them all with elegance, imagination, and superb technical control. Her associates provide her with a secure environment. Her bassist, Rich Syracuse, seems to know what she’s going to do as soon as she does. He contributes interesting solos of his own. Drummer Siegel provides solid time and tasteful accompaniment. Together they achieve ebullient sense of swing.
all about jazz
January 11, 2010
As someone in her sixth decade as a professional jazz pianist, Lee Shaw would be forgiven if she stuck with an Old School sound. Instead, the octogenarian educator has been expanding her musical comfort zone with an assist from her longtime rhythm section—bassist Rich Syracuse and Jeff "Siege" Siegel. As much of an influence on her as she is on them, the Lee Shaw Trio has developed a "family" aesthetic that is as riveting as the music on “Blossom”, their fourth release as a unit.
"Blossom” Review One of the
“Best of 2009 Recordings”
From the waltz feel of the title track, to the shifting melodies of the disc-closing “Nipper’s Dream”, Lee Shaw’s “Blossom” is a delight. The pianist’s interplay with drummer Jeff Siegel and bassist Rich Syracuse led to such fruitful results as the insinuating “Blues 11” and the languid “Augo Triste”. Although mostly made up of Shaw’s originals, the rhythm section contributed a couple of tunes, and the cover of Fats Navarro’s “Fat’s Blues” was punchy.
Albanyjazz.com LOCAL HERO AWARD 2009
…..and "Blossom" is the Lee Shaw Trio’s best disc, period.
"Blossom" Audio Audition
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Success can come at any age. Just ask pianist Lee Shaw. The 83-year-old keyboardist was largely unkn...Success can come at any age. Just ask pianist Lee Shaw. The 83-year-old keyboardist was largely unknown to the masses until the start of this century. The classically-trained Shaw turned to jazz when she saw Count Basie and soon after formed a jazz trio with her husband, drummer Stan Shaw, performed in New York City and then relocated to Albany, where the two played with visiting musicians such as Dexter Gordon, Frank Foster and Chico Hamilton. She also became a noted instructor: John Medeski of Medeski, Martin & Wood is one celebrated student. After her husband passed away, Shaw created her current trio with bassist Rich Syracuse and drummer Jeff Siegel and released several recordings, including her 2008 breakthrough CD/DVD package, Live in Graz,
Shaw's fourth trio outing, Blossom, brings a freshness to the crowded piano trio field. On eight originals (five by Shaw, two by Syracuse and one by Siegel) and a couple of covers the threesome shows a singular style that is contemporary but classic which reveals a memorable approach to the basic bass, drums and keys setup.
The band deftly proceeds from ragtime to bop-based blues to gentle ballads with equal assurance. Shaw's balmy opener "Blossom" combines Bill Evans' harmonic sensitivity with Oscar Peterson's joie de vivre. The composition demonstrates Shaw's prowess as composer and player: she flirts with fertile chord changes while skillfully shifting from ebullient swing to an almost classical inclination that echoes her conservatory education.
The three S's (Shaw, Syracuse and Siegel) also handle blues with confidence. On a jaunty version of Fats Navarro's "Fats' Blues" Shaw discloses her soulful side with incisive blues chords as she manipulates the piano's low end while she romps out a frisky melody with her right hand. Shaw's "Blues 11" has a sense of sweetness but also conveys a deeper undercurrent that has a lingering scent of mysteriousness.
Syracuse furnishes a pair of pieces. "Cool Jack" is anything but: it's an uncorked hard-bop burner where Shaw spins, bobs and weaves across the 88 keys while Syracuse provides a steadfast bass and Siegel confirms he has been studying Art Blakey and other stalwarts. The ironically titled "Sleeper" is a bluesy medium-tempo tumbler where the two rhythm aces conspire together like the old friends they are, cultivating a fine bass/drum duet offset by Shaw's harmonics.
The longest numbers are also the most tonally meditative. Shaw's reflective "Algo Triste" features a graceful, dexterous Syracuse improvisation and lustrous Shaw contributions. Siegel's subtle shadings merit close attention, especially his articulate cymbal ticks and percussive tinges. Siegel's smoothly sloping "Shifting Sands" has a similar slant that has an elegant waltz-time arrangement. It's a good case that testifies that simple and nice is all that is sometimes needed. There is a lot more here to examine: for example, Shaw's solo rendition of Johnny Guarnieri's sprightly "Virtuoso Rag" is a marvel.
It may have taken a few too many decades, but Lee Shaw has arrived in the spotlight and she is well worth discovering and listening to.
"Blossom" All About Jazz
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"Blossom" Review All About Jazz by J. Hunter As someone in her sixth decade as a professional..."Blossom" Review
All About Jazz
by J. Hunter
As someone in her sixth decade as a professional jazz pianist, Lee Shaw would be forgiven if she stuck with an Old School sound. Instead, the octogenarian educator has been expanding her musical comfort zone with an assist from her longtime rhythm section—bassist Rich Syracuse and Jeff "Siege" Siegel. As much of an influence on her as she is on them, the Lee Shaw Trio has developed a "family" aesthetic that is as riveting as the music on Blossom, their fourth release as a unit.
"Fats' Blues" is a cooking Fats Navarro tune that would have been an excellent up-tempo disc opener; Shaw's forceful, sassy attack combines a delightful sense of whimsy with a genuine love for the standard and the time it came from. Instead, Shaw and her partners chose to open Blossom with the title track, a pastoral waltz that begins with Shaw's in-the-clear, ruminative figure and then literally blossoms like a garden in springtime. Shaw's piano dances, Syracuse diligently counters, and Siegel makes the cymbals sizzle with some serious brush work. It's a gorgeous picture, and the whole band paints it.
Syracuse and Siegel have big voices, and both get plenty of exercise on Blossom. The pair's meditative groove sets the tone for Shaw's "Algo Triste," one of two long-form pieces on the disc. The other is "Shifting Sands," a Siegel composition most recently heard on Siege's own quartet disc Live in Europe (ARC, 2008). Shaw gives the hypnotic piece a gorgeous texture worthy of Bill Evans, working the haunting melody while Syracuse goes to town on his solo. Syracuse contributes two pieces of his own (the hard-bopping "Cool Jack" and the mid-tempo blues "Sleeper"), and a splendid time is had on both.
Johnny Guarneri's "Virtuoso Rag" has that Old School sound Shaw might have pursued. She certainly has a blast with the solo-piano piece, working the tempo up and down as she attacks the tune with an unbridled joy. But Shaw shows nothing but joy on Blossom, whether she's playing the Carnaval-inspired "Holiday" or the sweetly sad "Nipper's Dream." This music works because this group loves to play it, and loves to work with each other. No surprise: the family that plays together, stays together.
Live in Graz, Downbeat
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Down Beat :: April, 2009 Chris Robinson Lee Shaw Trio Live In Graz Artist Recording Collective...Down Beat :: April, 2009
Lee Shaw Trio
Live In Graz
Artist Recording Collective
Recorded at Café Stockwerk in Graz, Austria in 2007, Live In Graz showcases the octogenarian pianist Lee Shaw and her trio. Shaw’s highly cohesive trio consists of bassist Rich Syracuse and drummer Jeff Siegel, who play together so well and change direction so deftly that it’s as if they share a collective consciousness. But this does not mean that their individual voices are suppressed. Syracuse shows off his melodicism and inventiveness on several lengthy solos, most notably on “Easy Walker” “Song Without Words” and the lovely waltz “Rain Threads”.
Shaw has a clean, delicate touch, with which she pulls the notes from the piano rather than pushing them out from it in predominately single note melodic lines. The trio’s every utterance contains constant dialogue and give and take: Siegel surges with Shaw’s lines and urges her on with creative cymbal and snare work. Syracuse often sits on pedal points to help Shaw build tension, and she is more than happy laying out, putting the spotlight on her colleagues.
A supplemental DVD includes tour photos, a bonus track from the concert, video footage from the trio’s Reutlingen, Germany, concert, as well as interviews with Shaw and the trio. ----
Live In Graz: Easy Walker; Song Without Words; Elegy; Rain Threads; Street of Dreams; Foots; Stan’s Song; Night Mist.
Los Angeles Jazz Scene
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Lee Shaw is a veteran pianist who also should be well-known. A lyrical player who is particularl...
Lee Shaw is a veteran pianist who also should be
well-known. A lyrical player who is particularly
effective on ballads and swings tastefully on more
uptempo material, she normally performs standards from
the great American songbook. However the program on
Originals consists entirely of her own compositions.
My favorites of the nine are “Prairie Child” (which
hints rhythmically at her memory of riding a horse as
a child), “Song Without Words” and the picturesque
“Rainthreads.” Ms. Shaw, bassist Rich Syracuse and
drummer Jeff “Siege” Siegel often seem to think as one
and the music is both beautiful and quite
unpredictable. This highly enjoyable and thoughtful
outing is recommended and available from
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Many excellent jazz musicians go relatively unnoticed in their careers. Well known and respected amo...Many excellent jazz musicians go relatively unnoticed in their careers. Well known and respected among fellow players, they often settle down to playing gigs locally, away from mainstream notice, while recording occasionally. Such a person is pianist Lee Shaw.
Now at 82, Shaw's jazz chops are still well-honed as heard in the new release Lee Shaw Trio: Live in Graz, recorded in Graz, Austria. Included with the CD is a DVD which features footage and stills from the trio's 2007 European tour, plus a bonus track not included on the CD. The real value of the footage, though, is seen in interviews with Shaw, both alone and with her longtime colleagues, bassist Rich Syracuse and drummer Jeff Siegel.
Born in Oklahoma in 1926, Shaw left for Chicago to study classical music but soon turned to jazz. She married drummer Stan Shaw, formed a trio and went on to New York City. The two moved to Albany in the seventies where she began a career in teaching music and the trio started playing around the area. After husband Stan died in 2001, she formed her current trio.
Over the years she has played with many greats from Dexter Gordon to Thad Jones. Her influences include Oscar Peterson and Billy Taylor. On this recording her stately style suggests Peterson, if not for his whirlwind technique but his swinging sensibility.
The trio is exemplary-bassist Syracuse weaving in and out of her solos, while getting plenty of time to show off his marvelous creativity. Also getting many opportunities to shine, drummer Siegel is a solid anchor and an inventive soloist.
The play list is a mixture of interesting, seldom-heard tunes, ranging from Billy Taylor's "Easy Walker" (joyfully exhibiting her vibrant, straight-ahead style), Victor Young's "Street of Dreams" (effectively conjuring an hypnotic spell, abetted by Syracuse's strong bass) and Ahmad Jamahl's "Night Mist" (wonderfully letting go, leading the group in an all-out effort, concluding with Siegel's rocking drum solo).
Among Shaw's outstanding compositions is the thoughtful, pensive "Song Without Words"; the impressionistic Debussy-like "Rain Threads" which includes Siegel's cymbal shower; and her memoriam to husband Stan, "Stan's Song," highlighted by Syracuse's haunting bowed-bass solo.
This album is a treasure-waiting for jazz fans to find.
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LEE SHAW Lee Shaw Trio: Live in Graz, CD/DVD Artists Recording Collective Every now and then a de...LEE SHAW
Lee Shaw Trio: Live in Graz, CD/DVD
Artists Recording Collective
Every now and then a deserving but unsung jazz talent emerges into the national limelight after paying dues in perpetuity and enduring the blues in endless obscurity.
A classic case is Lee Shaw, an 82-year-old wizard pianist/composer who, after a lifetime totally committed to jazz, finally gets her due with this fine CD/DVD package celebrating her life and music.
In the most happily deserved release of 2008, Shaw, a classically trained pianist with top bop chops, displays her rich, expressive palette. It ranges from her impressionistic harmonic sense on several originals-riffing, Ravel-like reveries -to her earthy blues feeling on Ahmad Jamal's "Night Mist Blues."
What makes the album really tick is the crisp sense of interplay percolating among Shaw and her longtime, younger collaborators, the extremely melodic bassist Rich Syracuse and drummer Jeff "Siege" Siegel.
If the vibrant tracks on the CD make you wonder why Shaw is a household name only in her native state of Oklahoma, she explains it all on the bonus DVD in a warm, informal interview.
A modest, irresistible person of immodest, irrepressible talent, she comes across both in the interview and at the keyboard as an artist who had a virtually religious calling for jazz, come what may. Her inspirational life-story's message to all similarly inspired young players just starting out: Never quit, no matter what.
Essential download: "Street of Dreams"
Live in Graz Audiophile Audition
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Audiophile Audition Five Stars Mike Birman February 26, 2009 This long overdue tribute to a...Audiophile Audition
February 26, 2009
This long overdue tribute to a great pianist belongs in every jazz collection.
Lee Shaw Trio - Live in Graz - CD Recorded at Café Stockwerk, Graz, Austria (77:23) + DVD (4:3 color) of live concert, bonus tracks, photos and Interviews with Lee Shaw - ARC-2062 (www.leeshaw.org) *****
Pianist Lee Shaw, born in Ada, Oklahoma in 1926, absorbed the "Great American Songbook" as it was created. Perhaps that explains her fresh and vibrant interpretive skill. She studied classical piano in Chicago and her solos often reflect that additional musical depth. Jazz soon became her passion and she began playing in clubs all over the city. It was there that she met the New York native drummer Stan Shaw whom she married. They formed a piano trio and eventually moved to New York, where they played at top venues such as Birdland. She resisted offers to play with such major bandleaders as Lionel Hampton, opting to focus on the trio with her husband. After their move to the Albany area, where Shaw has lived these past 30 years, they continued to play with the major musicians who came through town. After Stan's death in 2001, Shaw began working with bassist Rich Syracuse and drummer Jeff Siegel. This is the Lee Shaw Trio and they are superb.
Upon learning that the Lee Shaw Trio would be performing in Graz, the Austrian Broadcast Company extended an invitation to record the concert for the radio. This CD comes from that recording and it is merely a portion of what the trio played that evening. At the Art Gallery (World of Basses) in Reutlingen Germany, they played for more than two hours, and some footage from that concert is presented on the accompanying DVD. Also on the DVD are some fascinating interviews with Shaw who recounts a personal history of jazz that is never less than insightful. The concert portion is filmed from the rear of the hall but visibility is passable, as is the sound.
The CD makes for splendid listening. The influence of Oscar Peterson is obvious in Shaw's playing but she utterly transcends all influences. Years of experience as well as her classical training have created a unique style that is deep, harmonically daring and thematically sophisticated. Though her playing is often sumptuous Shaw is unafraid and will juxtapose passages of lyrically spare but still beautifully expressive moments that are utterly ravishing. Listen to Victor Young's "Street of Dreams" or Ahmad Jamal's lovely "Night Mist Blues" on the CD to hear Shaw's brilliant pianism to great effect. Her five originals on the CD are all strong compositions as well. Bassist Rich Syracuse plays some splendidly inventive solos and drummer Jeff Siegel provides some thoroughly supple solos during his turns at bat.
Both CD and DVD make for wonderful listening. The personal reflections on jazz that grace the DVD only increase its value to the jazz aficionado. The CD sound is warm and natural with a close focus that highlights each instrument's acoustics. Listen to Syracuse's bowed bass on "Stan's Song", written as a tribute to her husband by Shaw, to appreciate the rich and natural recorded sound. The DVD is somewhat more remote in sound but quite well presented. This set is a long overdue tribute to a great pianist whose brilliant contribution to jazz is why the music always remains vibrant and fresh. This set belongs in every jazz fan's collection. Most strongly recommended!
"Blossom" Review Jazziz
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Lee Shaw Trio Blossom (ARC) While the piano trio may be a tried-and-true configuration, under th...Lee Shaw Trio Blossom
While the piano trio may be a tried-and-true configuration, under the leadership of a master, it's by no means staid and unimaginative. Blossom doesn't try to reinvent the wheel, hut provides abundant evidence that there is plenty of spark left in the format, as well as in octoge¬narian pianist Lee Shaw. She and her longtime cohorts, bassist Rich Syracuse and drummer Jeff "Siege" Siege!, remain consistently inventive and enjoyable throughout the 10 song set
The Shaw-penned title track opens the disc, her piano accented by Siegel's cymbal shadings. Unless you're listening closely, you may not even notice when Syracuse joins in, until his solo halfway through makes it obvious. "Fat's Blues"
is one of only two non-originals here, but Shaw and company find new expression in the Pats Navarro-credited piece, which swings irresistibly. Shaw's own "Blues 11" follows at a slower pace, as Syracuse again gets plenty of solo space. The bass¬ist plays high in the register, with Shaw's delicate camping in the background, resulting in a more chamberlike and less traditional blues sound. The group slows for a false ending, then picks up the pace before a final ritard to the end.
The threesome then sets off on the jaunty "Holiday." Shaw's gentle rolls and Siegel's insistent cymbals share the driving, with Syracuse along for the ride. In keeping with the festive mood,
a read of Siegel's "Shifting Sands" throws in sly quotes from "The Christmas Song." Syracuse wrote two tunes here, the up-tempo "Cool Jack" and "Sleeper," the latter of which features inventive stick-work from SIegel. But whoever the composer, Shaw and her bandrnates make sure the music is mellifluous, melodic and full of moxie.
- Ross Boissoneau
Sets are typically 60 minutes long. We generally play
two sets per concert. Sets normally consist of 7 songs - half of which are original compositions and jazz standards by the likes of Ahmad Jamal, Billy Taylor, Cole Porter, Howard Arlen, etc.
|May 25, 2013 Saturday||8:30 PM||Hotel 74 State||Albany, NY, US|
|Trio 8:30 until 11:30 PM|
|May 31, 2013 Friday||7:00 PM||Provence||Albany, NY, US|
|Duo 7:00 until 10:00 PM|