WBGO Blog
  • Woodwind Master Bud Shank Dies at 82

    April 3, 2009. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Notes
    Photo: Elizabeth Becker
    Elizabeth Becker

    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.
    -Josh


  • The Return of Salsa Meets Jazz

    November 3, 2008. Posted by Vincent Bochis.

    Bobby Sanabria
    Last month, Salsa Meets Jazz returned to Greenwich Village. The show was held at Le Poisson Rouge, located at the site of the old Village Gate, at Bleecker and Thompson, where Salsa Meets Jazz originated in the 1980's.Bobby Sanabria's nineteen piece juggernaut roared through two sets. The first set included new power arrangements of Latin jazz classics "Manteca" and "Tin Tin Deo." Selections from the band's latest album Big Band Urban Folktales included trombonist Chris Washburne's composition "Pink," which Sanabria described as a song that captures the sights in the city every summer. Trumpet great John Faddis' muscular virtuosity in "Tin Tin Deo" set the bar for the ozone-piercing trumpet work of the four regular section members. The defining rhythms of legendary guest artist, conguero Candido Camero, demonstrated that he continues, at the age of 87, to be a grand master who delights in connecting with the audience. Original Village Gate impresario Art D'Lugoff, who serves as a consultant to Salsa Meets Jazz and other productions, was on hand. WBGO's Awilda Rivera was the host for the evening.

    On December 1, Salsa Meets Jazz returns to Le Poisson Rouge. Latin Jazz icon Larry Harlow and his orchestra will be joined by guest artist, the renowned baritone saxophonist Ronnie Cuber.

  • Johnny Griffin: April 24, 1928 - July 25, 2008

    July 25, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Saxophonist Johnny Griffin
    WBGO bids farewell to Johnny Griffin, a master jazz musician. Many jazz people referred to Griffin as "The Little Giant," no doubt because of his dimunitive stature (he was a shade below 5 and a half feet tall). The consensus, however, was that Griffin's true stature loomed large in the music. Johnny Griffin could easily fall under the category of "hard bop saxophonist," but to do so would be an injustice. When you listen to the raw muscular sound of early Johnny Griffin records, you can hear a combination of saxophone legend Coleman Hawkins, the rough-and-tumble rhythm and blues of Griffin's Chicago hometown, and some definitive gospel wails. It was a big, combustible sound. One that will be missed.

    Read the New York Times obit.

    If you're looking for good music from Griffin, you have plenty of options.
    Some suggestions after the jump.
    Read more