Woody Shaw: Ginseng People


Ginseng People


Woody Shaw (trumpet)


Bemsha Swing (Blue Note 29029)

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Woody Shaw (trumpet), Geri Allen (piano), Robert Hurst (bass), Roy Brooks (drums).

Composed by Woody Shaw


Recorded: Baker’s Keyboard Lounge, Detroit, February 26 or 27, 1986


Rating: 94/100 (learn more)

Revisiting another of his classic lines from the CBS era with a “local” rhythm section comprising one established master (drummer Roy Brooks) and two rising stars (pianist Geri Allen and bassist Robert Hurst), Woody Shaw soars on this well-recorded live session from 1986.

By the time of the Bemsha Swing session, it seemed that Woody at 41 was almost a figure from a past era. Changes in the jazz business and the fashion for “young lions” had marginalized one of the most important voices in the music. It seemed that there was little interest for this swinging but forward-leaning music as young players turned to other, often conservative models for their nascent and marketable styles. Shaw would keep playing brilliantly until his tragic death after a subway accident in 1989, but the message of his accessible yet challenging music was overlooked. Woody’s music and playing had true originality, building on tradition but never content to follow, always striving to lead. The implications of his music have still not been explored by the musicians who have come after him to the extent that it, and he, truly deserves.

Reviewer: Brian Lynch

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