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CD Review: Lee Shaw Trio 

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Islandview Records, 2007

Venerable jazz pianist Lee Shaw simply shines with her nine-song CD of self-penned compositions Originals, the first release of her own tunes in a lengthy career. Recorded in Catskill, New York by Scott Petito, it features her longtime trio of Rich Syracuse (bass) and Jeff Siegel (drums).

Shaw creates stories without words, evoking images and moods with slight variance of touch, keen harmonic sensibility, and total command of the keyboard. Here, Shaw chooses subjects, images, even thoughts, and improvises around them. The results are compelling sonic paintings that are always evocative and at times cinematic.

The sparkling “For Now” kicks off the collection with a hint of blues, followed by the timeless “Prairie Child,” a piece inspired by time spent in Oklahoma with her father. “Sweet Baby” was written in homage to her Dalmatian, but it could be a love song for anyone. “Restless Wing” holds a lovely, spiraling harmonic progression, while the wistful “Stan’s Song” is a tribute to her late husband, drummer Stan Shaw. This tune telegraphs the loss of control and direction when he was stricken with a crippling disease. The deep sense of hopelessness, inevitability, and the cycle of life live here.

Throughout, sideman Syracuse’s bass percolates just below the surface, emerging for clever, complex solo spots. Siegel swings with light touch, dusting off his cymbals and snare with periodic explosions on the toms.

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