This CD includes a 22 page booklet, an article by Ben Conroy, a list of all Robert Shaw’s recordings and what key they are played in by Konrad Nowakowski, a list of all unissued recordings by Robert Shaw by Konrad Nowakowski, photographs, musician personnel, and original discographical details.
From this CDs booklet notes.
By the time he was a teenager, Robert Shaw would slip away from the farm to hear Jazz musicians play in the clubs and roadhouses in and around Houston. As soon as he was able Robert sought out a piano teacher and paid for the lessons out of his own earnings.
The ragtime elements and the “barrelhouse” piano style that he learnt at this time were to influence his playing throughout his life. The barrelhouse piano style that Shaw played employs a heavy, hard-hitting contact coupled with a fast release. The name of this style came from the barrelhouses, where it was performed in sheds lined with beer and whisky, an open floor and a piano on an elevated platform in the corner of the room. Shaw learnt this unique style of playing from other Jazz Musicians in the Fourth Ward, Houston, which was the centre of black entertainment in the city. These were the very same clubs that put on blues artists such as Sam (Lightnin’) Hopkins. In the 20’s Shaw became part of an itinerant band referred to as the “Santa Fe Circuit” because the musicians used Santa Fe freight trains to enable them to tour. These tours would take Shaw as far north as Chicago, but he mostly confined himself to venues in Texas. As well as playing with the band he also appeared as a soloist in the clubs and roadhouses in towns such as Sugar Land, Richmond, Kingsville and the big cities of Dallas and Houston. When there was an oil boom in Kilgore in the 30’s Shaw went there to play and in 1932 he went to play in the Black Orange Cafe in Kansas city. In 1933 he had a radio show in Oklahoma City before deciding to return to Texas where he eventually opened a grocery store called the Stop and Swat, in the mostly black east side of town.
In 1962 he was named black business man of the year but also continued to play his music privately and for people who would drop by the Stop and Swat. With the arrival of 1967, Shaw returned to the gig circuit, this time being appreciated by a younger audience and growing fame. This new found enjoyment of his performances would lead Shaw to play not only in festivals in the States but also touring European countries such as Holland and Germany. In addition to this he also played at the World’s Fair Expo in Canada, various folk festivals and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Shaw also made at least one album at this time, called Texas Barrelhouse Piano.
The Robert Shaw recordings on this Document Records CD features a selection of Mac McCormick recordings, live concert recordings, radio sessions and the recording by Ben Conroy, on a reel-to-reel recorder at a house party of his making, in 1971. The party went on for at least 4 hours, capturing a whole evening with Robert Shaw, his music and many personal recollections of his earlier performing years.