Woody Shaw on "Gingerbread Boy"

Woody Shaw in '78 (Wikimedia Commons)
Woody Shaw trades a heroic number of choruses with Louis Hayes on this December 1976 live date at the Vanguard. Homecoming was released under Dexter Gordon's name, but it's really the Woody Shaw-Louis Hayes band of the late '70s with Dexter as the hallowed, repatriated guest of honor. With Ronnie Mathews on piano and Stafford James on bass to round out the rhythm section, it's the direct continuation of the '50s-'60s hard bop sound that became bizarrely eclipsed in the '80s by the Young Lions—the shadow of a generation's own creation. Having not lived through that era, whose narrative is still being told and retold (DTM reference here), that whole episode in history is still and might forever remain murky to me, but it's thrilling to hear mainstream swinging jazz at its peak in the '70s, as on this recording. 

Aside from the obvious command (some might say domination) of the instrument, Shaw's wit and facility with voice leading caught my ear after revisiting this recording. The substitutions come across to my ear less as substitutions and more as a series of pathways, a skier weaving between slalom gates. Check it out:
Woody Shaw's Solo on "Gingerbread Boy" (Bb) 1

Woody Shaw's Solo on "Gingerbread Boy" (Bb) 2

Woody Shaw's Solo on "Gingerbread Boy" (Bb) 3

Woody Shaw's Solo on "Gingerbread Boy" (Bb) 4

Woody Shaw's Solo on "Gingerbread Boy" (Bb) 5

Woody Shaw's Solo on "Gingerbread Boy" (Bb) 6

Woody Shaw's Solo on "Gingerbread Boy" (Bb) 7

Woody Shaw's Solo on "Gingerbread Boy" (Bb) 8



  1. This was my introduction to Woody Shaw. I'm a tenor player, and I bought Homecoming as a high school kid back when it first came out, because it was a Dexter record and I loved Dexter. The first sounds I heard from Woody Shaw were ... everything you've transcribed here! ... AND IT BLEW ME AWAY! Dexter (who sounds great!) almost became an afterthought for me on this record. I obsessed over everything WS was doing here -- and never stopped obsessing. I bought every WS record I could get my hands on... Love his playing AND his composing. I've always meant to eventually transcribe this and put it on MY blog -- no need anymore, however: I'll just pore over your great work here. Hats off, and thank you! KB

    1. It's an incredible moment for sure. As great as Dexter sounds, I've also thought of this record as really being about the Woody-Louis interplay.

      And I should say thanks to you, too! I've been a fan of your site since sometime in high school, when I ran across your essay on your relationship with James Carter. I'll forever be indebted to your "Striver's Row" transcription, too. Thanks for reading.


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