In his first appearances, Shaw functions essentially as an antagonist. Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Riker require a ship to travel to a remote region at the edge of Federation space in order to rescue Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) from a desperate situation. Riker knows that he must convince Captain Shaw to change course, but without telling him why. At first, Shaw seems receptive to Riker’s and Picard’s lies about the mission being on the up-and-up, but quickly points out that there is no logical reason to go where they ask, and flatly refuses. This, after disrespecting his first officer Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) by using her long-forgotten human name, and admitting to the most grievous of sins: deleting Riker’s jazz collection from the ship’s computers.
That is unthinkable. Riker, being a freewheeling character and a quick-thinking commanding officer, is drawn to the lively improvised energy of jazz. He plays the trombone, even. Riker has previously tried to recommend jazz to fellow crewmates, although not always will success. When Worf (Michael Dorn) hears jazz, he describes it as “screeching, pounding dissonance. It is not music.” Captain Shaw, preferring order over improvisation, happily declares right to Riker’s face that when he took command of the Titan, he actively deleted Riker’s sizable jazz collection. Given the power of computers on “Star Trek,” that “sizeable collection” could very well have contained the entire history of the genre. Shaw, essentially, wiped out jazz.
I suppose he’ll have to go back to listening to J.S. Bach, or another form of music that can be mapped out mathematically.