April 7, 2009

Bud Shank, Jazz Saxophonist, Is Dead at 82 (BRUCE WEBER, 4/07/09, NY Times)

Mr. Shank, whose career spanned 60 years, was a versatile player, both as a sideman and bandleader, in a wide variety of musical arenas, from big band swing to symphonic to pop, with a wide variety of collaborators. He played with the Stan Kenton big band in the early 1950s; in the 1960s he accompanied the sitarist Ravi Shankar, and he recorded with the Mamas and the Papas, playing the flute solo on their hit “California Dreamin.’ ” In 1985, he was the featured soloist with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on a recording of a concerto for alto sax and orchestra.

But he thought of himself primarily as a bebop alto sax player, and no matter whom he was playing with, his sound, crisply melodic with an underlying swing, reflected his earliest influences: Lester Young, the great swing saxophonist of the 1930s and 1940s, and the bebop generation that followed him.

In the 1950s, living in Los Angeles along with musicians like the trumpeter Chet Baker and the baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan, Mr. Shank helped establish the laid-back, nonchalant-seeming sound that came to be called West Coast jazz. With other Kenton big band alumni, he was a regular presence at the legendary jam sessions at the Lighthouse Cafe in Hermosa Beach.

It was also in the Kenton band that he met Laurindo Almeida, a Brazilian guitarist, with whom he recorded two 1953 albums, known as “Brazilliance” Volumes 1 and 2, that anticipated the emergence of the bossa nova, the fusion of Latin music and cool jazz that would be popularized a few years later by Antonio Carlos Jobim and João Gilberto. Mr. Shank reunited with Almeida in 1974 in a band known as the L.A. Four, which toured internationally and recorded several albums.

-Bud Shank dies at 82; alto saxophonist was immersed in West Coast jazz scene (Jon Thurber, April 6, 2009, LA Times)
A versatile musician with an adventurous nature, Shank also played flute and -- during a productive period of studio work -- had pivotal solos on the popular 1960s pop tunes "California Dreamin' " by the Mamas and the Papas and "Windy" by the Association. He had an early interest in music without borders, playing and recording with Brazilian guitarist Laurindo Almeida several years before the Bossa Nova craze. In 1962, he recorded an album with Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar.

For many, however, he is best known for his work in Los Angeles with Stan Kenton starting in the late 1940s, followed by his association with Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars at the fabled Lighthouse Cafe jazz club in Hermosa Beach.

-OBIT: Bud Shank, 1926-2009 (Doug Ramsey, Rifftides)
-Jazz Profiles from NPR: Bud Shank (Produced by Bruce Talbot, NPR)

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 7, 2009 7:44 AM
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