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Skidmore College

Lee Shaw Trio and John Medeski in jazz concert April 1

March 27, 2011
Lee Shaw

Lee Shaw Trio (Photo by Diane Reiner)

Jazz pianist Lee Shaw is justifiably proud of her best-known former student and his musical accomplishments - so proud that she and her bass player and drummer joined him recently for a concert at the Egg in Albany, resulting in a new CD, Together Again, Live at the Egg. 

Shaw's former student is pianist/keyboardist John Medeski, hugely popular for his jazz, funk and jam stylings in the trio Medeski, Martin & Wood.

Shaw was living in Florida when Medeski's mother brought the-then 13-year old, classically trained, gifted boy to her for an introduction to jazz. "John is so flexible," Shaw says now. "He could have gone anywhere musically. His curiosity is boundless."

"At 13, he wanted to hear everything, right then," Shaw recalls.

Shaw and Medeski stayed in touch while he was a student at New England Conservatory, and then drifted apart.

A quarter century later, Shaw mentioned to her bassist, Rich Syracuse, and her drummer, Jeff "Siege" Siegel, that she had taught Medeski. Impressed with his talent, the two planned a reunion concert at the Egg.

Medeski and the Lee Shaw Trio will perform together again in a Skidmore College concert at 8 p.m. Friday, April 1 in the Arthur Zankel Music Center's Helen Filene Ladd Concert Hall.

General admission to the concert is $12, or $5 for students. Tickets may be purchased onlineand will be available at the box office in Zankel Music Center from noon to 2 p.m. Thursday, March 31, and from noon to 3 p.m. Friday, April 1.

One of the Capital Region's best-known jazz musicians, Shaw was classically trained as a child, and earned bachelor's and master's degrees in piano. On her way to a career as a classical accompanist, she heard Count Basie play, and says of that, "I went to heaven."

"People who discover their passion early on, and continue with it, are the luckiest people in the world," she claims. At 84, she says she's playing better than ever, and her former student believes her talents go beyond music.

"She's one of those inspiring people," Medeski says. "I'm in touch with some incredible musicians, some of the most famous musicians in the world, but Lee is as inspiring a musician and human being as anyone I've ever met."

Medeski says that studying the roots of jazz with Shaw was one of the most fortunate events in his life.

"She gave me a foundation that was open to anything. She plays in a certain style, but her teaching encompasses everything you can want to do."

In addition to the new recording with Medeski, Shaw has a second new CD, also released in January: "The Lee Shaw Trio," recorded live in Reutlingen, Germany, and featuring European saxophonists Johannes Enders and Michael Lutzeier.

Both CDs were released by Artists Recording Collective (ARC).

Shaw recently fell, damaging several discs in her spine, but claims she has no pain when she sits at a piano to play. "Music is so healing," she explains.

The trio and Medeski will present a jazz workshop at 2 p.m. on the afternoon of their concert, in Elizabeth Luce Moore Hall (Zankel 117). The workshop will be free and open for the public to watch.

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