Hello, and welcome to my blog! My name is Nick Walters, and I am currently studying for a Masters degree in jazz performance at Trinity College of Music. I have just began planning my Personal Project, a substantial piece of work to be submitted in May, and I have set up this blog as a way of recording my thoughts at various times, as well as documenting my progress.

The focus of my Project is Woody Shaw, the American trumpet player. I have started listening to Woody’s playing only in the last couple of years, and something about it really grabs me. In the course of this project I aim to analyse Woody’s style, to find out which aspects of it I like the most, and to incorporate these aspects into my own playing. I am going to transcribe several Woody Shaw solos and derive exericses from them to (hopefully) use the best aspects of Woody’s playing to improve my own style.

So, to begin with, here are three areas of Woody’s style that instantly come to mind as being worthy of recognition:

1) Sound. Woody has a beautiful, fat tone throughout the entire range of the instrument. He is also a masterful user of vibrato, especially when ending phrases.

2) Harmony. The pentatonic scale is often used by Woody, resulting in the frequent use of larger intervals such as a 4th or 5th – intervals not traditionally associated with the trumpet as they are difficult to perform at speed. He links together various pentatonic scales seamlessly to switch from playing “inside” to “outside” the underlying harmony.

3) Articulation. Woody’s articulation is always very clear and precise, even at very fast tempos. He is also very adept at accenting different parts of phrases, and he will often break up legato lines with staccato and accented notes.

Next to come: I am going to look at these areas in a lot more detail and work out how to incorporate some of these ideas into my own playing.


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