Woody Shaw (trumpet; b. 1944 - d. 1989)
Woody Shaw for me was a logical successor to Miles Davis. At one point Miles Davis and Woody Shaw were both signed to Columbia Records. Shaw's career never really scaled the same heights as Miles Davis, Lee Morgan or even Donald Byrd (fellow trumpet contemporaries). Woody Shaw had the same distractions as many other musicians during the 60's and early '70s. He also suffered from a retinal disease that restricted his eye sight.
Shaw's clear cut focus on post bop may have cost him a wider audience even after incorporating swathes of innovative fusion for a string of albums during the mid-seventies. But it's that same precision and dedication that kept each of his records sounding rich, vibrant and still surpass a large majority of the records of the 70's and 80's. Woody Shaw would go on to influence another set of up and coming musicians such as Tony Reedus (drums), Mulgrew Miller (piano) and Steve Turre (trombone) whom would play in his band shortly before his death. Woody Shaw would die in the hospital after a tragic NYC Subway accident.
Most of Woody Shaw's catalouge is now unavailable (there are a few you can download) but there is an excellent series of CD's entitled Woody Shaw Live Vol. I - IV (High Note Records) that can serve as a wonderful primer if you interested in hearing a truly underrated musician like Woody Shaw. If you see any of his albums at a record store or online I would highly recommend buying them.
Woody Shaw built a huge body of work in just a short amount of time ('65 - '87) and his legacy will continue through these CD's and the artists he has influenced including Wynton Marsalis, Anthony Braxton and one of my favorites Dave Douglas. I hope that more people will come to appreciate and regard Woody Shaw with the legendary status as time passes. Check out the commentary from Anthony Braxton on Woody Shaw below.