Woody Shaw With Anthony Braxton – The Iron Men (1977/1981)

FrontCover1.jpgThe Iron Men is an album led by trumpeter Woody Shaw which was recorded in 1977 but not released on the Muse label until 1981. The Iron Men was reissued by Mosaic Records as part of Woody Shaw: The Complete Muse Sessions in 2013.

This is a particularly interesting set by Woody Shaw because it teams the trumpeter with the great saxophonist Anthony Braxton and such forward-thinking players as altoist Arthur Blythe, pianist Muhal Richard Abrams, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Joe Chambers. Highlights are versions of Eric Dolphy’s “Iron Man” and Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz” that are based on renditions Shaw had recorded with Dolphy back in 1963; the latter has Braxton playing clarinet. A couple of brief free improvisations by the trio of Shaw, Abrams and McBee in addition to Andrew Hill’s “Symmetry” and the trumpeter’s epic “Song Of Songs” round out this continually intriguing and adventurous program. (by Scott Yanow)

This album starts with Eric Dolphy’s “Iron Man” in a hard bop vein with exciting solo work from alto saxophonist Arthur Blythe, trumpeter Shaw, and pianist Muhal Richard Abrams. Michael Cuscuna’s liner notes indicate that Woody Shaw dedicated this LP to “Eric Dolphy, Andrew Hill, Jackie McLean,McCoy Tyner, Bobby Hutcherson and all the otheriron men.”

@ Keystone Korner, San Francisco CA 

“Jitterbug Waltz” features Shaw with a more fluid tone on cornet, Anthony Braxton on clarinet, Abrams and bassist Cecil McBee with exciting solo work, in a standard take on Fats Waller’s classic tune. Shaw’s original composition “Song of Songs” lends an air of serious drama; there’s a Spanish bullfight intensity, presenting the trumpeter’s daring and flexible range. Saxophonists Blythe and Braxton follow Shaw’s stirring solo with a duet chorus, Blythe on alto and Braxton on soprano. Together, they weave more excitement into the piece before turning it over to the Abrams, who offers a hailstorm of a piano solo. For two brief trio numbers, “Diversion One” and “Diversion Two,” with piano and bass, Shaw eschews the hard bop idiom and picks up the flugelhorn to float a few examples of his pure, natural tone. Highly recommended. (Jim Santella)


Muhal Richard Abrams (piano)
Anthony Braxton (clarinet, saxophone)
Joe Chambers (drums on 01. + 03..)
Victor Lewis (drums on 02 + 05.)
Cecil McBee (bass)
Woody Shaw (trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn)
Arthur Blythe (saxophone (on 01. + 05.)

01. Iron Man (Dolphy) 6.23
02. Jitterbug Waltz (Waller) 8.25
03. Symmetry (Hill) 8.21
04. Diversion One (Shaw/Abrams(McBee) 2.59
05. Song f Songs (Shaw) 12.48
06. Diversion Two (Shaw/Abrams(McBee) 2.52