Jazz Dispensary Reissues Woody Shaw’s Debut Album ‘Blackstone Legacy’ On Vinyl

Craft Recordings and Jazz Dispensary have teamed up on a vinyl reissue of Blackstone Legacy, the 1971 debut from influential trumpeter Woody Shaw which arrives on September 15th, 2023. Showcasing the musician’s talents as a bandleader, composer and improviser, the album is “politically charged,” and features performances by Gary Bartz, Lenny White, Ron Carter, Bernie Maupin, Clint Houston and George Cables.  

The latest release in Jazz Dispensary’s Top Shelf series, Blackstone Legacy has been remastered from the original analog tapes by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio and pressed on 180-gram vinyl at RTI. The 2-LP album is housed in a gatefold tip-on jacket, featuring faithfully reproduced designs, as well as Nat Hentoff’s original liner notes, which include commentary by Shaw.

A pioneering figure in modern jazz, Woody Shaw (1944–1989) was known for his unique harmonic approach and innovative technical abilities on the trumpet. Raised in Newark, NJ, Shaw began performing as a teenager, gaining formative experience as a sideman for the saxophonist Eric Dolphy and spending over a year in Paris, where he honed his craft in clubs across Europe. In the mid-’60s, Shaw returned to the US, where he worked alongside such greats as Horace Silver, McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea, Andrew Hill, Max Roach and Art Blakey. By the turn of the decade, however, Shaw was eager to branch out on his own.  

His debut as a leader, Blackstone Legacy, shows stylistic developments. It was recorded in December 1970 and released the following year on Contemporary Records.

In the album’s liner notes, Shaw spoke to Hentoff about his intentions behind the record:

We’re trying to express what’s happening in the world today as we—a new breed of young musicians—feel it. I mean the different tensions in the world, the ridiculous war in Vietnam, the oppression of poor people in this, a country of such wealth. . . . We’re all also trying to reach a state of spiritual enlightenment in which we’re continually aware of what’s happening but react in a positive way. The music in this album, you see, expresses strength – confidence that we’ll overcome these things. 

In addition to multiple Grammy nods, Shaw was a consistent favorite in the DownBeat Reader’s Poll, earning such awards as Best Trumpeter (1980) and Jazz Album of the Year (Rosewood, 1978), while in 1989, he was inducted posthumously into DownBeat’s Hall of Fame. Perhaps even more importantly, Shaw was universally respected by his peers, from Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis to Wynton Marsalis.

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