Lee Shaw is an indomitable spirit; music excites her and she transfers that energy directly through her music to the listener. I've known Lee since 1984 when I produced her first recording, Lee Shaw OK, for Cadence Jazz Records. Over the years, both in listening to her music and in speaking with her, I have been continually impressed by her effervescence and her emotional sincerity.
Lee's most formidable influence is Art Tatum, through Oscar Peterson, with whom she studied in the early 70s. And she's still a student; listening, analyzing, and incorporating all that strikes her as interesting and worthy. Previous to recording this session, we went out to our listening room and played some of our recordings of Joseph Scianni (CIMP 122&130) for her. Her reaction to Scianni, a pianist much closer to Cecil Taylor than Art Tatum, was one of delight, appreciative of his inventiveness and approach. Lee has the same enthusiasm teaching (students have included John Medeski, Mike Pellera, and the late Clyde Criner), and it shows with the deep breaths of enthusiasm she takes when speaking about her students' various abilities and exploits.
Previous efforts to get Lee recorded were thwarted due to a number of reasons, mainly finding a trio that was compatible. Mike DeMicco, who favors the Tal Farlow school of Jazz guitar, and Rich Syracuse, who cites Dave Holland as a main influence, began working together in 1986. They teamed up with Lee in the spring of 1995. In April 1995, Lee wrote me that she had finally once again found the missing pieces for a trio. (Stan Shaw, Lee's husband and long-time drummer, was forced to retire for health reasons.) She sent me a tape, I agreed, and this recording is the end result.
This was not an easy session. Lee wants perfection. When producing, perfection is not at the top of my list of objectives; it falls somewhere after blood, sweat, and inspiration. I think, in the end, this program satisfies us both. Lee Shaw creates and her art moves me to another place. This OK Kid continues to KO me with her spirit, energy and emotional honesty, the very essence of creative improvised music.
Robert D. Rusch
The tunes on this CD are presented in the order in which they were recorded.