Monday, April 6, 2009

D.C. al fine: Bud Shank

Saxophonist Bud Shank died yesterday at age 82 at his home in Tuscon, ending an amazing 60-year career.
I don't know where or when I first heard of Bud Shank, or heard Bud Shank, but he was the kind of jazzbo who seemed to always be around. He wasn't what one might consider an "A" list name, but his was an unforgettable name.
I plan to listen to his last release, 2007's "Beyond the Red Door" on Jazzed Media. Billboard gave it 4 out of 5 stars, and I'd agree. He would have been 79 or 80 at the time of the recording, but you'd never know it from his still-throaty sound. Bud wasn't the horn player to call for smooth fills, or soft backing -- I haven't heard all that much of his playing, but he always sounded like he was playing with energy and enjoyment. He was inventive when playing familiar lines, and dynamic when crafting his own solos.
Here's the Associated Press' report on Bud Shank:

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Bud Shank, a flutist and alto saxophonist who worked with such famous acts as the Mamas and the Papas, has died. He was 82.
Shank died Thursday of pulmonary failure at his home in Tucson, according to his Web site and JazzTimes magazine. No phone numbers were listed for Shank's home.
A native of Dayton, Ohio, Shank worked with saxophonist Charlie Barnet in North Carolina before moving to California in the 1940s. There, he played with trumpeter Shorty Rogers and then pianist Stan Kenton.
Shank was one of the first jazz musicians to explore Brazilian music, and recorded a number for World Pacific, a world music label, from the 1950s to the 1970s, according to JazzTimes.
During his career, Shank worked with Sergio Mendes and the Mamas and the Papas. His flute work is heard in the latter's song, "California Dreamin.'"
Shank reached the Billboard charts in 1966 with his album Michelle, a collection of covers of pop hits.
More recently, Shank focused on his alto work and formed the Bud Shank Big Band in 2007. Shank was recording a new album in San Diego the day before he died.

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