Lee Shaw was born in Cushing, Okla., in 1926 and grew up in Ada, Okla., on a farm in the Bible Belt, she passed away on October 25, 2015.
She began playing classical music at age 5 and learned the American songbook tunes when they were new.
“Jazz was a dirty word in Oklahoma when I was growing up,” Lee said.
After earning a master’s degree in piano from the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, Lee met jazz drummer Stan Shaw in the Windy City.
They married in 1962 and played in New York jazz venues including the Village Vanguard, Half Note, Minton’s Playhouse and the Apollo during the ’60s.
Jazz was a man’s world and Lee had to fight for her place on the bandstand and started to complain when she wasn’t given a solo.
Lee studied with Oscar Peterson and played with jazz greats including Count Basie, Roy Haynes, Zoot Sims, Al Cohn, Al Grey, Richard Davis, Slam Stewart and Eddie Jones.
She has lived in a bungalow along the Mohawk River in Colonie since 1971, playing and teaching jazz.
Lee husband died in 2001 at 74.
He stopped playing in 1992 due to a progressive nerve disease.
Lee became his primary care provider. They had no children.
“All her fans are her extended family and her students is like her children,” said Robbins, who interviewed many of them for the documentary.
“It’s a wonderful family of music and they love Lee deeply.”
Lee died at age 89 in October 2015.