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A Tribute to Woody Shaw Jr (1944 – 1989)


Woody Shaw Jr
Woody Shaw Jr

Brhaddhvani pays homage to the legendary American Jazz trumpeter, flugelhornist, cornetist, composer, arranger, band leader, and educator Woody Herman Shaw Jr (December 24, 1944 - May 10, 1989) on his death anniversary. Woody Shaw Jr was known as “The Last Great Trumpet Innovator” (NPR Music).


For rationalists, it may be just a coincidence that Brhaddhvani was born in 1989, the same year Woody Shaw died. But it cannot be a coincidence that Woody Louis Armstrong Shaw III came to Brhaddhvani as a student along with members of faculty from New School University, Jazz department, New York in 2004. I congratulate Woody Shaw III's noble determination to perpetuate the pioneering Jazz tradition of his father. Karaikudi S. Subramanian

Woody Shaw III first visited Chennai in 2004 with the New School University Jazz Department on an exchange program with Brhaddhvani to study and learn the principles of the COMET methodology. The culmination of the program was a performance part of the Lalgudi Year celebrations 2003-2004 titled ‘Beyond Boundaries’ produced and directed by Dr. Karaikudi S. Subramanian. Woody performed along with mridangam maestro Prof. Trichy Sankaran and violin duo Lalgudi GJR Krishnan and Vijayalakshmi. The cross-cultural composition titled ‘Nirnaya’ composed by Dr. Subramanian, inspired from the composition ‘Take Five’ by the legendary Jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, was performed.


Woody III’s connection to India was a very spiritual experience and to his surprise much later he got to know that his father had visited Calcutta in the 80’s which very few people knew about. Woody had studied ethnomusicology, eastern religion and philosophies of India, Japan and Vietnam, prior to his first visit to Chennai.


Woody III had set out on his mission to preserve, disseminate and propagate his father’s legacy. He was greatly inspired by Dr. Subramanian’s musical tradition and COMET. Brhaddhvani’s work was a huge influence and inspiration to take his mission forward in America. It gave him a unique experience of the deep rootedness of traditional and contemporary concepts in music making from a global context. He drew parallels to his legendary father Woody Shaw Jr’s struggle to bring out the truth of the Jazz Tradition in America with his innovation in performance and education.


He visited Chennai again in 2009 to present his work in Jazz at an international conference hosted by Brhaddhvani called ‘Universe of Sound’ and was instrumental in helping Brhaddhvani in publishing its work online. He followed up with more visits to discuss the possibilities of incorporating the COMET methodology within the Jazz curriculum based on his father’s work. The dream was to establish a COMET conservatoire of world music featuring the Jazz tradition of Woody Shaw along with traditions of some of the greatest Carnatic music maestros of the 20th century associated with Brhaddhvani in India and America. Brhaddhvani hopes and wishes for this dream to become a reality.


Woody Louis Armstrong Shaw III is a producer, cultural curator, archivist, and the administrative and artistic director of the legacies of his late father, trumpet innovator and composer Woody Shaw (1944-1989), and his stepfather, the legendary tenor saxophonist and Academy Award nominated actor Dexter Gordon (1923-1990). He is also the founder of MOONTRANE MEDIA GROUP, LLC — a digital media, creative production, and arts management consulting company in New York City.



Dr.Karaikudi S Subramanian honouring Woody Shaw III after the performnace in 2004
Dr. Subramanian honouring Woody Shaw III after the performnace in 2004

Woody Shaw III in performance with mridangam maestro Prof. Trichy Sankaran at Beyond Boundaries in 2004
Woody Shaw III in performance with mridangam maestro Prof. Trichy Sankaran at Beyond Boundaries in 2004

Woody Shaw III in performance with Lalgudi GJR Krishnan and Vijayalakshmi
Woody Shaw III in performance with Lalgudi GJR Krishnan and Vijayalakshmi

Woody Shaw III giving a lecture demonstration at Universe of Sound in 2009
Woody Shaw III giving a lecture demonstration at Universe of Sound in 2009


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