Billy Shaw
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Billy Shaw

Band Jazz Avant-garde


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This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"Washington Post Editor's Pick"

Recently re-released, Billy Shaw's "!Sassy!" is a cool helping of free-form, avant-garde jazz.


!Sassy! (1993)
Death Jazz - Shovin' Sunshine (1993) Genterine Records
Fire-A-GoGo - Shovin' Sunshine (1993) Genterine Records
!Sassy! - Re-issue (2005)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Billy Shaw's been pushing air through a brass pipe for two decades, blowing the avant garde and free jazz. Lately dubbed a "free jazz traditionalist", his acoustically based traditional trio approach to cutting edge noise has garnered attention since his 1993 release of !Sassy!, a cult recording circulated through the underground for ten years.

The !Sassy! era was cut short, overshadowed by the formation of the pioneering Death Jazz trio Shovin' Sunshine (still available through Genterine Records) and the rise of the Fire-A-GoGo genre of post-avant-garde Death Jazz, as well as the ascension of a newer beast, Billy Shaw the tenor sax player.

Recognizing the recent renewed interest in Shovin' Sunshine and early '90's avant garde, Billy decided to re-issue !Sassy! as a digitally remastered and augmented work, featuring not just the originally released alto sax compositions, but two additional pieces including soprano and tenor sax. This anticipated re-issue is now available through and Tower Records. Any aficionado of the genre will want a copy of this fascinating and entertaining hour of musical adventure. And you can listen to free sample tracks at

"Well, I'll just have to leave it to a new generation of iconoclasts to ream me a new one..." In the meantime, it still sounds cool, and it will always sound cutting edge. From flaming iconoclasm to intimate imagery, Billy Shaw compositions are unmistakably individual in their style and execution. Perhaps one of the last of the raging blowhards, it's come back to "free jazz traditionalism".

Shortly after !Sassy!'s original release, Shovin' Sunshine was formed, and Billy went to tenor sax fulltime; no further recordings of Billy Shaw alto sax were ever made. Many people considered !Sassy! to be Billy Shaw at his most lyrical and melodic, markedly different from his characteristically fiery tenor playing. For the sheer fun of being able to present more of the facets of Billy Shaw the player, we've included two new tracks on this re-issue. The previously unreleased "The End of Days" (1995) features his unique tenor sound in the same trio setting with which !Sassy! was originally recorded three years prior. The other new track, "Sahara" (1996), features soprano sax and clarinet in the same trio setting but to a considerably different and hypnotic effect.

!Sassy! has always been characterized as a lightly instrumented classic acoustic trio format featuring percussion, bass, and lead sax as the foundation of the Billy Shaw artform. This re-issue CD presents the additional tracks as consistent extensions of the original format, with an expanded Billy Shaw looking back on !Sassy! from the vantage point of the intervening Shovin' Sunshine experience.

Almost nobody doesn't recognize Billy Shaw sax playing once they've heard it. From bright saxxy iconoclasm to dark and smoky flocks of wild geese, Billy Shaw has held his own through two decades of cutting edge sax play until it's come down to this... "free jazz traditionalism".