April 10, 2009. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
© 2009 WBGO
April 3, 2009. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
Saxophonist and flutist Clifford Everett "Bud" Shank died at his home in Tuscon, Arizona yesterday. The cause was pulmonary failure. As a young upstart in the late 1940s, Shank gained prominence as a reed player in both the Charlie Barnet and Stan Kenton big bands. He was most closely associated with the West Coast jazz scene in its heyday, notably as a member of Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars, where he further developed a cool but evocative alto swing that was his calling card. Shank also recorded in small chamber jazz ensembles, and is credited as a co-leader on Brazilliance, some of the first sessions of jazz and bossa nova in the United States, long before the cross-cultural pollination became a national phenomenon.
Shank was also a tremendous flutist, though he swore off the instrument later in his career. Many of his best reed dates were recorded for World Pacific records in the 50s and 60s. He also cast himself as a solid studio musician in Los Angeles, where he joined other jazz players looking for steady work [you can hear his flute solo on "California Dreamin'" from the Mamas and the Papas]. Shank eventually teamed up with his studio mates - bassist Ray Brown, drummer Jeff Hamilton, and his longtime associate from the Kenton band, guitarist Laurindo Almeida - and formed the popular LA Four band. In more than six decades of performance, Bud Shank contributed a wide angle shot of improvised music. He will be missed.
Feel free to share some of your favorite Bud Shank recordings in the comments section. I love his teamwork with fellow Kenton bandmate Laurindo Almeida on Brazilliance, Shank's work with trumpeter Shorty Rogers, as well as the Improvisations record with sitar master, Ravi Shankar. And that's just scratching the surface of a very long career.
© 2009 WBGO