Woody Shaw: The Goat and the Archer
The Goat and the Archer
Woody Shaw (trumpet)
Song Of Songs (OJC/Contemporary, OJC 180)
Emanuel Boyd (tenor sax), Woodrow “Sonship” Theus, II (drums).
Composed by Woody Shaw.
Recorded: Los Angeles, September 15 and 18, 1972
Rating: 91/100 (learn more)
I’ve never understood why it took so long (almost five years from the date of his first breakthrough sideman dates) for Woody Shaw to release his first album as a leader. (The excellent session he recorded at Rudy Van Gelder’s in 1965 was not released until the late 1970s.) In Lester Koenig’s West Coast label Contemporary, Woody finally found a company with the vision to present his music and group leadership. Woody’s first release for Contemporary, Blackstone Legacy, from 1970, was a somewhat sprawling affair, with plan and instrumentation seemingly informed both by the Miles Davis expanded ensemble of Bitches Brew (Miles's sideman of the time Gary Bartz was an important force on Blackstone) and the larger setups of late Coltrane and contemporaneous Pharaoh Sanders (with whom Woody recorded around this time). The music, though, was strong and distinctly Woody’s, and at least one jazz classic came out of the first date – pianist George Cables’s “Think On Me.” On Woody’s second Contemporary date, Song Of Songs, the format tightened up a bit, and over the years this record has become my favorite of the two sessions (which is not to say you should pass over Blackstone!). “The Goat and the Archer” is a blues, played harmonically and formally freely with standout solos from Cables and Woody. The introduction to this song, as well as the theme, uses the descending fourth structure lick, seemingly derived from the opening of Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, that to me shouts “Woody”! In the theme and the opening of Woody’s solo, the major/minor 3rd ambiguity beloved of Woody (and of one of his favorite composers, Bartok) is on display.
Reviewer: Brian Lynch