RIO RANCHO, N.M. – A forgotten studio recording of the late jazz trumpeter Woody Shaw has been released as part of an effort to preserve jazz history.
“49th Parallel,” a 1987 recording led by Canadian bassist Neil Swainson that features Shaw and tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson, was made available this month by Vancouver, Canada-based Cellar Music Group’s imprint Reel to Real and New York distributor la reserve records.
The album has been out-of-print for 25 years and is now available on digital platforms.
Swainson said it was an honor to see his project recorded in Toronto make it into the hands of jazz fans after the recordings languished for years. He said his friend Shaw, who had a public struggle with heroin addiction, had left a rehab center in California and came to Toronto for the recording.
“He looked healthy. He looked great and he was ready to play,” Swainson said.
Shaw was nearly blind from retinitis pigmentosa during the recording and played by ear and memory. “He couldn't read nor write at the time,” Swainson, 64, said. “He has a great recall, though.”
The seven-song album took only two days to record, Swainson said.
After the recording, Henderson saw a big career resurgence stemming from a series of Grammy-winning albums for the Verve label in the early 1990s. He died in 2001.