Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Lee Shaw Trio: Blossom

ARC Records
By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 5.6.10
Buy CD: Blossom

Regular readers of this column may remember a long-ago review of octogenarian pianist Lee Shaw.

Well, she and her trio are back with another wonderful album.

The artists are the same: Shaw on piano, Rich Syracuse on bass, and Jeff “Siege” Siegel on drums. Eight of the 10 tunes were written by these three musicians; the other two tracks are a blues number by early bopper “Fats” Navarro, and pianist Johnny Guarnieri's “Virtuoso Rag.”

As the menu suggests, Shaw is fluent in jazz genres that cover more than six decades, and small wonder: She recently celebrated her 84th birthday!

She plays marvelously, regardless of her advanced age. Her touch is exceptional at every tempo; her facility across the keyboard — with both hands — is better than many of today's much younger artists.

Shaw studied with Oscar Peterson and has accompanied Anita O'Day, Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan, among others, during a lengthy career. Over the years, Shaw has been offered jobs by many name bands, but trios have been her forte. She has worked with her current partners for years, and it shows; they think as one and are wonderfully proficient together.

Although Albany, N.Y., has been home for much of her career — she's a faculty member at The College of St. Rose — Shaw still tours frequently and has more club (and other) dates than she can accommodate.

What a great, swinging lady!

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