Excellent, exciting live post-bop jazz. "Night Music", recorded live at the Jazz Forum in NYC in 1982, contains the bookend tracks to the previously reviewed Master of the Art by innovative and influential trumpet virtuoso Woody Shaw, a member of the DownBeat Jazz Hall of Fame (one of those rare musicians voted in the year immediately following their death) and his excellent all-star sextet. With the title "Night Music", one might expect something more romantic, balladic, and laid back, perhaps with strings. Not in this case: this was a night of hot, steamy, highly-inventive improvisations based on attractive, challenging themes and arrangements. And the sextet, one of Shaw's well-recorded favorite groups (as evidenced by the high praise given during the interview on "Master of the Art"), was on fire for three of the four songs, with number 4 being a relaxed but intense ballad. Starring Steve Turre on trombone, Shaw, and the legendary Bobby Hutcherson on vibraharp on the front line, bolstered by the excellent rhythm section of piano phenom Mulgrew Miller, bassist Stafford James who produces a big, booming sound, and the exceptionally fiery drums of Tony Reedus, this was grand "night music" indeed, with the recording once again produced by the renowned Michael Cuscuna. The sound is excellent and the production values are high.
The sextet's performances are uniformly excellent and the "best of the best" begins with the exciting convoluted uptempo "Orange Cresent", written by Steve Turre, which provides an excellent framework for soloing as it surges in and out of a modal pedal point in the theme and in solos, with Hutcherson, Miller, and Shaw especially imaginative. Woody's own "To Kill A Brick", the recording's high point, has an outstanding, inspired Turre solo with Shaw and Hutcherson inventing ingenious solos, as well. Miller's "Apex" is a pure burner tilting in and out of 4/4 swing with all providing mighty solos, especially Hutcherson. "All The Things You Are" is encapsulated in the time-tested 12-note rubato originally stated by Bud Powell in support of Parker and Gillespie in the heyday of bebop, with all hands giving great solos, especially bassist James in pizzicato mode. Of special mention are drummer Tony Reedus and bassist Stafford, who are formidable as a rhythm tandem, relentlessly driving the group from beginning to end, with Miller's 'comping' stoking the group's fire. In all, a torrid live session by one of Woody Shaw's greatest groups, vividly recorded and finally available in CD and MP3. My Highest Recommendation. Five BLAZING Stars. !! (4 tracks; Time: 47:21. Woody's Delight is Steve Turre's tribute to his mentor featuring Jon Faddis, Claudio Roditi, Wallace Roney, and other trumpet stars!)